After-School Solutions

It's the nemesis of every working couple I know: Who cares for the kids when work is in session and school is not? After-school, summertime, winter vacations, sick days, last-minute business trips...the list has a life of its own.

This is what I've done:

* Offer our primary babysitter flexibility (she's a musician and pulls a lot of all nighters) in exchange for short notice fill-ins when we need her.

* Choose public and private schools with excellent afterschool programs until 6 p.m.

* Develop a reciprocal arrangement of pitch-hitting with network of parents.

* Keep a long list of alternate babysitters who are available on short notice

* Take advantage of the plethora of affordable summer camps in my area.

Juggling three kids means I need a lot of Plan Bs. And this aspect of "balance" is one reason I don't have a fourth child.

What about you? What are your solutions? How does the number of kids in your family, the proximity of relatives, and your parenting philosophy factor into your Plan Bs?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  February 16, 2007; 6:30 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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Great topic. This is something I grapple with all the time. When we moved from the DC area to London, we lost our great network of friends and family that helped us out when emergencies struck. Because of this, we decided to go with a nanny over here (which I know is a great luxury and we are very fortunate to be able to afford one). Though most days, my DH is home by 5 (I take morning duty), those 1-2 days a week where DH is traveling or works late make daycare almost an impossibility in our family. Personally, I don't know how other working families do it.

Posted by: londonmom | February 16, 2007 6:44 AM

What does someone do if you don't have family nearby nor a network of friends to help out (I have friends but I would never ever ask them to watch my children). I have a live in nanny for that reason. If I have to, I'd have to take off from work--either myself or my husband. It's tough

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 6:55 AM

third!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 7:29 AM

Great topic - definately something that I have had to deal a lot with lately between DC schools closing and a child sick a lot due to her first year in pre-school... have not figured it out yet, but do know that my boss is getting very frustrated at me, and I will not be taking vacation this year due to taking so much time off. ALso, being a single parent I do not have the hubby/boyfriend to share duties with.

If there is a silver bullet answer to this please let me know!!

Posted by: single mom | February 16, 2007 7:40 AM

My son is disabled, so we are a bit more limited than others in available options. My husband and I take turns using leave from work, which has so far worked okay but is not a long-term solution. In the past we have also hired college students for short-term fill in, which works really well if you live near a campus.

Posted by: novamom | February 16, 2007 7:48 AM

(I have friends but I would never ever ask them to watch my children)

So what are friends for? You may want to think about making new ones. Of course, if you have enough money to buy all your childcare resources, you'll never, ever need true friends. You know the ones I'm talking about, those special persons who will drop everything to help you out in a pinch because they know you will do it for them.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 16, 2007 7:55 AM

"What does someone do if you don't have family nearby nor a network of friends to help out (I have friends but I would never ever ask them to watch my children). "

I wouldn't ask my family or friends to watch my children. They have lives and jobs that don't come to halt just because I decided to give birth.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 8:00 AM

I am with father of 4. You should be able to call on true friends in times of need.

However, I feel your pain with not having family around. The best place to find after school babysitters is day care. They are already checked out and are usually willing to earn some extra cash. Ask around since your child has a nanny and find out who other people use. If your friends don't have kids check out the centers around you.

Posted by: scarry | February 16, 2007 8:05 AM

Fo4 - many of our friends are like us. Both parents work, hectic lives. We have no family in the area, but rarely impose on our friends to care for our children. Not because they're not good or "true" friends, but quite the opposite - because they are good and true friends who we respect and don't want to impose upon. There can be 5 or 7 snowdays in a winter, summer is 3 months long, school breaks are a week at a time. These are predictable times when childcare is needed. As parents, WE have a responsibility to work out an equitable childcare solution. If that involves a childcare swap with a friend, excellent. In our case, it involves day care, occasionally bringing grandparents in from out of town, and carefully managing our PTO for scheduling issues. In a truly unexpected pinch or emergency, of course I'd call on a friend, and would help if called upon. Not so for things like school breaks and after school.

Posted by: SAMom | February 16, 2007 8:12 AM

Father of 4

"So what are friends for? You may want to think about making new ones"

1. My friends and family are not my employees.
2. None of my friends or family have "child proof" homes or have pets that are kid friendly.
3. They would help out in a real emergency, but I prefer to make another arrangements.

I don't need to make new friends, but you obviously do since you have highjacked this blog for posters to become your cyber buddies.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 8:16 AM

To anon at 8 a.m. : No, other people's lives don't come to a halt because you decided to have kids, but my goodness, people do sometimes get enjoyment out of helping one another out! My brother and I often exchange babysitting services when one of us is in a pinch, and a friend and neighbor watched our son for a couple hours while we went out to a movie for V-day. This friend and neighbor doesn't have kids, but we try to pay her back in other ways, like keeping an eye on her house and cat while she's out of town, offering rides when she needs them, etc. I think having friends and family around who offer to help and seem to really want to is a great resource when you're in a child care bind. And CERTAINLY you shouldn't take advantage of it or never offer favors in return, but if people offer help, take it! This applies whether you have kids or not, by the way. Ever have your car not start? Need a ride to the airport? Have a pet that needed sitting? My goodness, I hope we don't live in a society where friends and family never want to help each other out!

Posted by: writing mommy | February 16, 2007 8:18 AM

Today's is indeed an excellent topic.

londonmom wrote: "When we moved... we lost our great network of friends and family that helped us out when emergencies struck."

This topic particularly resonates for the DC area because, due to the nature of a good deal of government employment (especially in the partisan and military realms), the region has a disproportionate number of what could be termed affluent transients who live there for only a few years in order to enhance professional advancement.

Although it's an increasing problem everywhere, I suspect the DC area has a higher percentage than most of families without other relatives nearby. Even back when we lived there we found that, upon meeting someone, it was usually safe to open a conversation with, "Where are you originally from?," because nearly everyone was from somewhere else.

Little wonder, then, that it's all the harder for Washingtonians to develop the kind of essential friendships with what Fof4 terms "those special persons who will drop everything to help you out in a pinch because they know you will do it for them."

One solution is a deliberate effort to develop networks of parents, friends, neighbors, fellow-parishioners (for the religiously observant), etc., upon whom one can depend. But this takes time -- first to find likely candidates, then to determine whether you can develop the necessary level of mutual trust -- and more than ever, people aren't living in the same place long enough for this to happen anymore (also a problem with babysitters and nannies who move on).

Posted by: catlady | February 16, 2007 8:26 AM

Please, wouldn't you help a friend if she called and said her dog got hit by a car and had to go to the vet, but she had to be at work?(this happened to me) Or her mother is really sick and needs to go to the doctor or something? Friends do more things for each other than just babysit. I don't think that father of 4 meant that they should watch your kids all the time, but if you have an emergency and need help, you should be able to call on your friends.

As far as cyber buddies go, just don't read those posts. It's that simple!

Posted by: scarry | February 16, 2007 8:30 AM

Wife's Plan B:

1) Panic
2) Try to get me to Panic
3) Become edgy and hard to deal with
4) Poke holes in my suggestions
5) Begrudgingly act on one of my suggestions
6) Bitterly work with me to execute one of my suggestions
7) Complain

I hate plan B. The last few days have been awful.

Posted by: Random Guy | February 16, 2007 8:34 AM

It is Friday, when are we going to talk about clothes and sex?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 8:34 AM

We try not to rope friends in if we don't have to. Right now, DD (age 3) goes to day care. The only problem we have is when DH is on business trip. I have to drop her off an hour earlier due to my early commute. I pay the day care staff extra to open early and let my kid essentially sleep there. She is semi awake at 5:45 am and she drinks some milk and promptly falls back a sleep. I found that they were always excited to earn a little extra cash that it was no trouble to get them to do it. That will be our day care situation till kindergarten. After that I plan to sign her up for the SACC program. I think if DH goes on a business trip, I will have to miss some time at work and bring her in as the before care opens. We trade off sick days when we are both here. Summers will be filled with summer camps/SACC and our one week annual vacation. I generally take Christmas week off, so that is not a problem. I will probably pay for spring break at SACC. Snow days will have to be split or if my old day care is willing to take her for the day, we will bring her there. Not sure about that arrangement because the owner would like to retire in 2 years but she is hoping to sell the business to a friend. To be honest, we tip the day care staff well at Christmas, teacher's appreciation day, and send in small gifts through out the year for a number of reasons. 1) because we are grateful for their loving care 2)they are under paid anyway 3) because by us being good customers/clients, they are willing to go the extra mile for our kid. For example, if DD's preschool calls and says she is sick, please come get her. The day care sends one of their staff to pick her up at school and has her wait at daycare for me to get to her. Where the school expects you to get their in a nano second to come get your sick kid. If the school bus doesn't show up, which happens from time to time, the day care will drive her to preschool. They have been so hopeful in letting us occassional use them for early openings while DH is traveling. We will definitely run into more problems with SACC because it is a more formal program. Hopefully with the combination of SACC and old daycare, we should do fine. My other thought is try to find a SAHM that wouldn't mind making an extra buck now and then. Like I would pay her to take my DD early to school when DH is traveling or a snow day. How much do you think we should offer for a full snow day coverage? An hour in the morning? This is all speculative because DD is not at that age yet. But I still keep the options in the back of my mind. I use friends if it is a dire emergency. Broken down car, hospital emergency etc... Not a random snow day or god forbid for summer care.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 16, 2007 8:36 AM

I was lucky enough to had jobs that afforded me the opportunity to telework or work from home when my daughter was sick and I worked hours that I would allow me to arrive home from work at the same time she arrived home from school, so we would end up doing things together.

As for the summer, a good daycare program was what I chose to do.

I know this is a very rare case, but I have to thank God that I was very lucky all these years.

Posted by: Single Dad | February 16, 2007 8:38 AM

The anonymous poster at 8:16 might want to try to find ways to relax his/her attitude a little ("I prefer to make another arrangements") and become a bit less demanding ("None of my friends or family have 'child proof' homes or have pets that are kid friendly"). What, do your friends and family leave weapons lying around, or let pet wild animals run loose in their houses? A courteous friend will lock up the guns and knives, and tie up the rambunctious dog or shut the scratching-prone cat in a room for a few hours when your child goes to their house. (Aside: when DH was a child, his step-grandmother really did keep wild animals in her house, including an ocelot in the bathroom who literally scared DH s***less daily when he had to live there for several months after his dad died and his mom was badly injured in an auto accident)

Writing mommy ("My goodness, I hope we don't live in a society where friends and family never want to help each other out!" and Scarry ("if you have an emergency and need help, you should be able to call on your friends") have really hit the nail on the head!!!

Posted by: catlady | February 16, 2007 8:45 AM

P.S. Perhaps 8:16's attitude is born out of a reluctance to help out others in a pinch?

Posted by: catlady | February 16, 2007 8:48 AM

I don't need to make new friends, but you obviously do since you have highjacked this blog for posters to become your cyber buddies.

Hey, I know it is cold outside, but do you need to be so cold?

Posted by: to: February 16, 2007 08:16 AM | February 16, 2007 8:48 AM

I don't ask my childfree friends to watch my kids. But almost every week I ask another mom or dad to help out with my kids. And I do the same for them. It is a great barter system and I highly recommend it.

It took me a long time to trust other parents with my kids, though. At least until my oldest was five. It was hard to let go and trust. I still have a hard time when driving is involved. I am amazed at the number of adults who think carseats and seatbelts are optional for young children.

Also, the local college student network is a great suggestion. Our son plays a lot of local basketball, so we have a good network of assistant coaches (many who are in high school). We've got no family in the area so these alternative networks are essential!

Our oldest is almost 10 so it's only a few years until he can watch the younger kids. That will be a new kind of freedom.

Posted by: Leslie | February 16, 2007 8:50 AM

to foamgnome

What is SACC?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 8:51 AM

So people see how friends play a role in their lives differently. Some people see a friend as someone who can watch their kids if needed. Others see a friend as someone they wouldn't want to ask to watch their kids. Not a problem, not worth arguing over.

At what age are people willing to leave their kids alone after/before school?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 8:52 AM

"Juggling three kids means I need a lot of Plan Bs. And this aspect of "balance" is one reason I don't have a fourth child."

Same reason I have just the one kid.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 8:53 AM

When my children were young, a few other moms and I set up a *cooperative* - each of us took turns watching the children on snow days, teacher work days, etc. That helped a lot. I also only accepted jobs with a short commute and a lot of flexibility, that often paid less but made life more manageable...

Posted by: jj | February 16, 2007 8:55 AM

My sister is lucky enough to home school her kids so she doesn't have to deal. I home school my daughter now too, so it has become much easier to handle this situation. If you can, home school. The schools in this country are getting worse and worse by the day so do your kids a favor and get them a real education. Get them out of public schools and if you can, home school them.

Posted by: Mike C | February 16, 2007 9:00 AM

Leslie's right about it taking time to establish trust.

Another option can be a retired neighbor, especially for after-school care (or running up to school if the child takes ill during the day or there's an early closure) -- especially if they've had lots of practice tending their own children/grandchildren. Plus, some retirees can really use the extra income.

Posted by: catlady | February 16, 2007 9:02 AM

"Hey, I know it is cold outside, but do you need to be so cold?"

Wow, that sounds lame. Quit telling people what to write (and FO4 did come off rude in his post)

Posted by: honky | February 16, 2007 9:03 AM

Mike C, you are suggesting that we solve the question of how to care for your children when there is no school by taking them out of school altogether?

Homeschooling does not solve the gapcare problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:05 AM

Don't only think what is only convenient to you. This what this kids will enjoy. Asking a retired person to fill in once in a while is going to drive your kids nuts. I am not knocking retired people or their age, but a young child and a person of retired age don't mix to well unless it's someone they know well.

Posted by: Harry | February 16, 2007 9:07 AM

Hey, I know it is cold outside, but do you need to be so cold?"

Wow, that sounds lame. Quit telling people what to write (and FO4 did come off rude in his post)

follow your own advice

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:08 AM

"Homeschooling does not solve the gapcare problem."

Sure it does. It eliminates it.

Posted by: Mike C | February 16, 2007 9:09 AM

Good topic- how on Earth do people do it with multiple children?? I only have 1 and this being her first time in a daycare setting, she has been getting sick a lot.
We have no family in the area and most of my friends are childfree (so actually have to work on snow days and I can't call them and ask them to take a day off when my child is sick! That's a silly thing to ever consider)

And my SAHM friends can't look after my sick child because then HER kids would get sick. And that's just rude to even ask in that situation.

I ended up calling a nanny agency that does emergency care/temporary care. We can't even begin to afford a regular nanny, nor do I even want a nanny. We pay $15/hr to the babysitter, plus a $25 fee to the agency for each day, plus a $200 year "membership" to the agency. We've only used it once so far, but it worked out well.

This is one of the many reasons I chose to have 1 child. I can't imagine trying to juggle sick days w/ 2 kids! I only get 6 sick days/year.

I can't wait until she gets older and doesn't get sick often!

My parenting philosophy- I'd like to tell me boss to shove it, personally. It's my little girl- if she has an ear infection and a 103 degree fever, I'm going to take her to the dr and cuddle with her the rest of the day- we're not curing the common cold- my daughter is just more important.
If my child had a chronic problem, then I obviously wouldn't have her in daycare! But she's a healthy child (who still gets sick 50% less than her peers, so I don't know what those parents do!)

Bottom line is my child is more important. She just is. If my boss has a problem with that, then so be it- that's really his problem for being so cold.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 16, 2007 9:11 AM

Mike C, if you have someone available to homeschool, then you do not have a gapcare problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:13 AM

Not to be snarky, but didn't you cover, #3 last month?

(See "The Kindness of of Other Moms, January 5th.)

I used to enjoy reading this blog, but not anymore. Childcare is a worthy topic, but between the above mentioned discussion and the recent FMLA discussions, it feels a bit overdone of late.

Many people in recent weeks have brought up some great alternative topics that would make for an engaging online conversation.

Please respond to what some of the other people on this board would like to see you discuss!

Posted by: heavy sigh... | February 16, 2007 9:14 AM

Harry wrote "I am not knocking retired people or their age."

Yet the rest of your post nullifies your disclaimer.

Lots of kids enjoy attention from grandparent-surrogates, who often have more time and are less frazzled ;-) Obviously not just any retiree will do, but ones who are interested are often real gems. And it's valuable for children to get to know people of all ages, not just contemporaries of themselves and their parents.

Posted by: catlady | February 16, 2007 9:14 AM

"Mike C, if you have someone available to homeschool, then you do not have a gapcare problem."

THAT'S MY POINT

Posted by: Mike C | February 16, 2007 9:16 AM

Our oldest is almost 10 so it's only a few years until he can watch the younger kids. That will be a new kind of freedom.

Posted by: Leslie | February 16, 2007 08:50 AM


Leslie- I'd watch out how much you let your older child take care of the others. I had to watch my younger brother from age 11/12 (6th grade) and on. I'd have to go get him from the bus stop, make sure he didn't get in trouble, eat too much junk food, didn't get injured. And it was NOT fun. I ended up becoming a "mom" to him which was not good for any of us. When I got my license I had to run out of my music lessons to go pick him up from baseball.

It's fine to use siblings once in awhile, but please don't do that your your oldest all the time! YOU and your husband are the parents and chose to have 3 kids- your oldest didn't. While he should help out- it should not be the primary arrangement!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:19 AM

Our school-age child is in before/aftercare at school. Unfortunately, if school is closed so is that. And there are many times school is closed for teacher workdays etc. My parents live about an hour away so while it wouldn't be practical for them to help out on a daily basis, they are very helpful for the scheduled days. They have her spend the night before a scheduled day off. Since spring break is over a week long, there will probably be a combination of her spending a few days with her grandparents and my husband and I taking a couple of days off. For the summer, I already have her registered for daycamps to cover the entire summer. We will go on vacation at some point so we'll withdraw her from whichever camp she's registered for at that time and just take the loss of the registration fee. Vacation time will be based on when our other kids' daycare is closed for two weeks. For snow days, we've arranged for our older daughter to go to daycare with the younger kids if necessary. We rarely go anywhere where we'd need a babysitter. We use the grandparents on rare occasions. I did just meet a girl at church who babysits so that may happen at some point. We have rarely used friends and my brother and sister-in-law though it has happened a few times when extremely necessary. But it is a reciprocal thing. We've also done occasional babysitting, catsitting or other favors.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | February 16, 2007 9:20 AM

How is a single parent supposed to home-school? What does s/he do for income? Not many can work from home FT.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:20 AM

catlady,

You must be crazy. Go ask a kid if he/she wants to hang with an old person. If the kid knows the person, sure, but if not you will get a loud no.

Posted by: Harry | February 16, 2007 9:24 AM

I also hated giving up my summers and after school activities to watch my little brother every day. I resented him and my parents for years. They couldn't afford anyone else, though.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:24 AM

Fortunately we have family in the area and flexible work schedules - so our kids are either with us or a grandparent. Both of my brothers live in the area too but we have rarely used them for babysitting and never for childcare while we are at work. They have their own obligations.

We also have a couple neighbors and friends we can call in a pinch but I am reluctant to overuse them. Our "neighborhood mother" moved last year and she was my fallback - I miss her terribly! Not just because she watched my kids but because she was a kind person and always looking out for others.

We are lucky so I have no complaints. We stayed in this area mainly because of family and it has paid off - we rely on them and try to "pay it back" with whatever help they need - isn't that what families are for?

Posted by: cmac | February 16, 2007 9:24 AM

"Get them out of public schools and if you can, home school them."

Sounds good, but I don't have any qualifications to be a teacher. I have neither the time nor the interest to return to school to become qualified to be a teacher.

In other words, if I had the interest and the aptitude to be a teacher, I probably would be one now.

I did send my kids to private schools.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:31 AM

One of Leslie's suggestions is: * Keep a long list of alternate babysitters who are available on short notice

Sounds great, but where does that "long list" come from? and available on short notice? Ha! All of the families I know have 1 - 3 sitters who are available with a couple of weeks notice, most (but not all) of the time. No one I know has a "long" list of sitters and none of the sitters are available on short notice. We've used Craigs List before to identify good sitters, but those folks have lives as well and their lives change. Does anyone other than Leslie have 6 or more sitter options, and are any of those folks available on short notice?

Harry wrote:

Don't only think what is only convenient to you. This what this kids will enjoy. . . . I am not knocking retired people or their age, but a young child and a person of retired age don't mix to well unless it's someone they know well.

Posted by: Harry | February 16, 2007 09:07 AM

When we are in a work-related, childcare bind, what the kids will enjoy is not on our list of concerns. We need to pay the mortgage. That's why we work. If we need to arrange for less than fun emergency care coverage, the kids need to do their parts by dealing with it. In our house, emergency care is not subject to the same "what do the kids like" criteria as permanent school/childcare. If it's safe and solves the problem, problem solved.

Random Guy hit the nail on the head above about the marital stress involved with emergency care. The best thing for our kids is keeping this kind of stress from impacting our marriage relationship.

the posters saying they'd never call friends and family sound to me as though they've never really been in a childcare bind -- one where all the paid options are unavailable. I'm not going to tell a client (nor will my husband tell his boss) that I can't be available for a 2:30 call unless I've exhausted all available options, and friends would be at the bottom of the all available options list.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 9:31 AM

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 09:20 AM,

How is a single parent supposed to home-school? What does s/he do for income? Not many can work from home FT.

I was a single parent for 15 years and I was able to home school and work away from home.

If you want something bad enough, you CAN make it happen.

Posted by: Mike C | February 16, 2007 9:31 AM

Sorry, SACC is the school aged child care program run in Fairfax county. It offers for a sliding fee, before and after school care, care for early dissimal, spring and winter break, a full 7 week summer camp, and care for teacher work days. It is very reasonably priced compared to our current day care costs. You must be a fairfax student to enroll. It is a great option for working parents. But the highest fee starts at hhld incomes of 50K. So virtually almost everyone that in my neighborhood would pay the highest cost. But even with that it is about $381 for a 1-5 grader during the school year. Kindergarteners pay more because they are only enrolled half day. Right now DD goes to preschool half days. And goes to day care in the after noon. I pay $1300/month for her half a day at day care.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 16, 2007 9:31 AM

I was going to move out of DC and back home for these kinds of things- especially when it's happening and seems a lot more upsetting than it actually is! By the next week no one remembers that your kid was sick and you had to leave early.

I had to choose career choices and long term stability over having family around to pick up a snow or sick day throughout the year. Family (well, just my mom) is only 2 hrs away- the other grandparents are scattered in a 90 minute radius from there, so in a scheduled day off in which work is still open, we could easily drop her off to spend the night every once in awhile. But it's not worth moving "home" for.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:31 AM

I also hated giving up my summers and after school activities to watch my little brother every day. I resented him and my parents for years. They couldn't afford anyone else, though.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:31 AM

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 09:20 AM,

How is a single parent supposed to home-school? What does s/he do for income? Not many can work from home FT.

I was a single parent for 15 years and I was able to home school and work away from home.

If you want something bad enough, you CAN make it happen.

Posted by: Mike C | February 16, 2007 9:33 AM

I also hated giving up my summers and after school activities to watch my little brother every day. I resented him and my parents for years. They couldn't afford anyone else, though.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:34 AM

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 09:20 AM,

How is a single parent supposed to home-school? What does s/he do for income? Not many can work from home FT.

I was a single parent for 15 years and I was able to home school and work away from home.

If you want something bad enough, you CAN make it happen.

Posted by: Mike C | February 16, 2007 9:36 AM

I tried to post this but it did not go through. SACC is the school aged child care program run through the Fairfax county schools. It serves as before and after school care, spring and winter break, a 7 week summer camp, teacher work days, early dissimal and half day kindergarten care. It is very reasonably priced. It is based on a sliding scale. For families of hhld incomes over 50K/year, you pay the full price. During the school year for grades 1-5, it is $381 approximately and more for summer sessions and spring/winter break sessions. Kindergarteners pay an extra $262 a month. I think they are open from 7-6 M-F. They are not open for snow days. And the obviously don't take sick children. You must be a Fairfax school aged child.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 16, 2007 9:37 AM

I was going to move out of DC and back home for these kinds of things- especially when it's happening and seems a lot more upsetting than it actually is! By the next week no one remembers that your kid was sick and you had to leave early.

I had to choose career choices and long term stability over having family around to pick up a snow or sick day throughout the year. Family (well, just my mom) is only 2 hrs away- the other grandparents are scattered in a 90 minute radius from there, so in a scheduled day off in which work is still open, we could easily drop her off to spend the night every once in awhile. But it's not worth moving "home" for.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:37 AM

Learn from the astronaut method of childcare. Stick them in diapers and chain them to something. Tell them it is astronaut training. All kids want to be astronauts... right? ;)

Posted by: Chris | February 16, 2007 9:39 AM

Why, thank you! I wear your calling me crazy as a badge of honor.

If a child doesn't generally like "old" people, s/he must be learning that attitude somewhere -- maybe from the parents? Examine your own attitudes, and whether you're conveying this message to your child, be it overtly or subtly. You may need to change how you handle the subject.

Not that all old people are perfect, of course. But plenty are terrific folks who still remember what it's like to be young. And they can bring a desirable added dimension to a child's life.

Posted by: catlady | February 16, 2007 9:42 AM


DH and I have usually tried to get orthogonal schedules at work --- putting our regular recurring commitments, of lectures and office hours, on different days, or at least clearly separated as morning/afternoon. When that works it's optimal: on kid-sick days, no-school-or-aftercare days, or when the kids were younger, sitter emergency days, whoever didn't teach that day would stay home with the kids, without having to cancel anything major. Semesters that we both taught the same days, but with a morning/afternoon split were a pain because we'd have to load sick kid into the minivan (hah! I missed that minivan bashing late yesterday), and drive them 10 minutes in to work to do a parent-swap (sometimes because our teaching schedules would be as little as 15 minutes separated, so it was important for the parents to pass off that relay fast).

This semester we're on separate campuses and were unable to get orthogonal schedules, so sick days have been trickier. On problem days (so far the only days they've gotten sick), they go in with whoever has the lighter morning schedule, and parent-on-duty sets them up in their office with a mat and blanket, the travel DVD player, DS lite, book, office whiteboard and markers, etc. Kids have learned where the bathrooms and water fountains are. They stay in our (private) office while we work (with some kid-interruptions) and while we go out and lecture (this works great with the 9yo, a little dicey with the 7yo, but we're all getting used to it). They know where we're lecturing in case of a major issue. (And we don't have secretaries; they bother nobody; in fact, the friendly people we walk by on campus generally wave and smile at them.) Then we typically do a parent switchoff, sometimes at home. Obviously if they were desparately ill to the point of throwing up, etc, one of us would just have to cancel a class and stay home with them, we wouldn't haul them into our office.)

Our aftercare does tend to schedule (for an extra fee) coverage for the teacher workdays, halfdays, spring break, etc. Usually for everything but holidays, if there's enough parent demand. And they usually have fun field trips on those days --- to a dairy, an aquarium,etc. For example, my kids are probably en route to bowling as I write. But Monday, there's no care, we're on our own with both of them! . . . and 4 lectures between us . . . .

Before the youngest started regular school they shared a sitter with even younger, almost fulltime-care boys down the street, afterschool for our oldest and and after morning preschool for our youngest. This sharing works great because even though you need fewer regular hours you still have an automatic backup for the no-school and sick days, they just spend all day with the shared sitter. (We started as the only family for this sitter, then added the younger boys' family then passed the baton to them as primary family, with us as the older/less-hours family; they're now just about ready to pass the baton to the younger family that joined them after our girls left for formal school and aftercare. I think the only thing giving them pause is exactly this issue, of getting decent coverage for school holidays, teacher workdays, sick days, etc). We joke that our sitter who's now doing a random walk through families in our neighborhood will never find her way off our street again!

Posted by: KB | February 16, 2007 9:46 AM

"I don't need to make new friends, but you obviously do since you have highjacked this blog for posters to become your cyber buddies."

Don't trolls EVER get a life?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:17 AM

"Hey, I know it is cold outside, but do you need to be so cold?"

Wow, that sounds lame. Quit telling people what to write (and FO4 did come off rude in his post)

Honky,

Just for you, I will never post on this blog again!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:18 AM

I was a single parent for 15 years and I was able to home school and work away from home.

If you want something bad enough, you CAN make it happen.

Posted by: Mike C | February 16, 2007 09:36 AM

Mike C - Wanting something badly doesn't make anything happen in this universe. Actions make something happen. If you want to tell us precisely the choices you made that enabled you to be a single parent and homeschool, we'd like the benefit of learning from your experience. Otherwise, you're essentially standing on the other side of the neighbor's fence lobbing snowballs into my yard.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:19 AM

Hey, this topic IS one of the ones suggested last week!!!!!

Compiling a long list of babysitters does take time -- years, in fact. And obviously some move away, graduate from college, etc so you constantly have to refresh it. The trouble finding babysitters is one of the many reasons I refuse to move as often as we used to. Takes too long to build up a new network.

Homeschooling as a solution to the afterschool/summer gap? Are you kidding? Homeschooling is great for certain people and certain kids, but it is no cure-all. Working parents can homeschool, but they need to hire teachers. A single working parent would have a very rough time homeschooling unless he/she had a flexible schedule and other homeschooling parents to share resources with.

Posted by: Leslie | February 16, 2007 10:23 AM

"I was a single parent for 15 years and I was able to home school and work away from home."

Mike C, can you tell us more about how you managed this? I'm curious.

We're lucky to have family in this area, and to have had fantastic friends where we lived before that I always knew I could call on if need be. And we are developing friends like that here too - even the retired couple next to us has offered to help. I think they would be last-ditch emergency backup, as I'm not sure how well they would handle our rambunctious son, but I'm touched that they would offer. I've found that learning to let go of the need to be perfectly self-sufficient, to be willing to both rely on our friends and neighbors and be there to help them, has really enriched our lives.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 10:24 AM

I'm curious as to how a single parent "working" from home could possibly homeschool a child. Last time I checked, being a teacher was a full-time job (preparing lesson plans, teaching, assisting children after-school with extra tutoring). I'm not trying to be snarky, but how could one possibly do both?

I'm not knocking homeschooling - I think it is a good solution for some children. But my understanding when people say "homeschool" is that the parent is teaching the child. So how can they do both work and teach?

Posted by: londonmom | February 16, 2007 10:28 AM

It's fine to use siblings once in awhile, but please don't do that your your oldest all the time! YOU and your husband are the parents and chose to have 3 kids- your oldest didn't. While he should help out- it should not be the primary arrangement!

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 09:19 AM

I agree that it should not be the primary arrangement for long periods of time, but that raising responsible kids starts with expecting them to pitch in with whatever the family need is. If Dad needs to run an errand and it's not appropriate to take the youngest child along, say, he needs to go assist a buddy whose car has broken down, then asking our 13 year old to be responsible for his younger sister for a couple of hours max until a parent gets home is the best family solution to the problem. I'd say that older kids are not asked to be responsible often enough any more and it shows in their collective immaturity.

An awareness of how draining childcare can be is the best form of birth control for teenagers.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:33 AM

This is a great topic. My husband and I are about to venture into this arena and it's going to be a wild ride. We live in Raleigh, NC, and schools down here are almost all going to be year round (9 weeks on/3 weeks off) starting in June. I haven't a clue what we'll do, but I'll be I'm going to get some great ideas from this blog.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 16, 2007 10:34 AM

Chris, funny!

This issue is one of the main reasons I am still at home after 19 years.

Posted by: experienced mom | February 16, 2007 10:34 AM

children and older people can mix wonderfully, and it's a great gift for children to appreciate the time. in my experience, both as a child and watching my own child, older people really focus on talking to you and they often have stories that fascinate young kids -- growing up on farms or similar things that sounds "exotic" to suburban kids. of course, if your child runs around nonstop like a maniac, then you probably can't mix him with other adults well regardless of age.

Posted by: catlady is right | February 16, 2007 10:36 AM

It's fine to expect older kids to pitch in occassionally, but parents can and do go overboard with the free babysitting. I had to babysit younger brother every day after school (no after school activities) and during summers. I did resent him and parents for a long time. Now of course i realize they couldn't afford other options, but I think that really means they couldn't afford the youngest kid (much as I love him).

Many times I was reprimanded for reminding my parents that _I_ didn't have him, they did.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:37 AM

Does ANYONE else NOT live in this "friendly retired neighbors/lovely stay at home mom available in a pinch/friends who'd drop anything to watch your sick kid" World???

We live in the city (to cut down commute times so we can have a family life) in a condo- all of our neighbors are young married professionals. There are a few very old people (you know, can barely walk) and that's it. We obviously have neighborhood friends, but all are 2 parent working families in the same situation or SAHMs with 2 or 3 kids that don't offer to watch a sick kid for you (since their kids will get sick)

Maybe I should pull my daughter from the city and her exclusive private preschool where the parents are all lawyers? trek to the burbs? Are the nice people out there? Or is it filled with the Valentine's cookie bakers who make me want to leap from a tall building?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:37 AM

This issue is one of the main reasons I am still at home after 19 years.

Experienced Mom, Do you bail out WOHMs in an emergency? If so, how often, how do they reciprocate, & do you ever feel taken advantage of?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:38 AM

An option for folks on a traditional schedule who have to deal with those long summers is a summer au pair. Keep in mind that these people are not trained nannies, just older teens or young 20s who want to see a bit of America and are pretty good with kids. I think it would probably work best with kids who are a bit older, maybe later elementary/middle school. Just a thought.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 16, 2007 10:42 AM

KB-
My husband and I did what you are doing (arranging teaching schedules, swapping...) for years. It worked for us. I look back and remember those years fondly. We each worked full time, which meant we worked all the time, but it was worth it because we each had private time with our children. So during those tough times, remember the fun ones. The years go by so quickly.
Also, why the knock on public schools? Our public schools are quite good. Our taxes are high, but I feel we get what we pay for in many ways. All is not perfect, but no solution is perfect, including home schooling.
I second the idea of college and high school students (assuming high school gets out earlier than elementary, here they get out later, so it means college students). I know many families who have compiled lists over the years. They get to know these students very well. Some students do more than one family at one house when parents are okay with it...usually when the kids are best buds and stuff.

Posted by: dotted | February 16, 2007 10:42 AM

I'm curious as to how a single parent "working" from home could possibly homeschool a child. Last time I checked, being a teacher was a full-time job (preparing lesson plans, teaching, assisting children after-school with extra tutoring). I'm not trying to be snarky, but how could one possibly do both?

I'm not knocking homeschooling - I think it is a good solution for some children. But my understanding when people say "homeschool" is that the parent is teaching the child. So how can they do both work and teach?

Posted by: londonmom | February 16, 2007 10:28 AM

londonmom, in the same way that a teacher in a public school doesn't work with any particular child for 6.5 hours, a parent homeschooling follows a curriculum that includes a certain amount of time in which the child works on a project, or reads, or completes a worksheet, on his or her own. at the older grades, the child is 70% self-directed and 30% adult-guided, still consistent with an approved curriculum. I assume that you know that assisting a child after-school with extra tutoring is unnecessary with a home-schooled curriculum.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:43 AM

Re: having older children watch younger children
One of the best things my parents did was to pay me for watching my younger sister. They paid a fairly average babysitting wage, not as high as some of the other parents that I babysat for, since I was in the comfort of my own home, but still a decent amount. It was also understood that this only applied if I was in charge for at least a couple of hours. I was still expected to watch her for free if my mom needed to make a quick trip to the store or something. This was not a daily arrangement, but it happened fairly often. It really worked well for everyone. I never resented having to watch my sister, because I was paid for it. My parents got a babysitter who they knew was responsible and my sister got someone that she knew. My parents made it clear to both of us that I was in charge but they also made it clear that since they were paying me they expected us to do more than watch tv the entire time. They were also understanding if I had other plans and couldn't watch her- since they were going to pay me, it wasn't much more of a burden to pay someone else.

Posted by: Charlottesville | February 16, 2007 10:44 AM

There are a few very old people (you know, can barely walk).

Heaven forbid your little angel should be contaminated by someone whose not perfect.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:44 AM

The term is 'pinch-hit' not pitch-hit.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:44 AM

As we have 4 children, we handled it in a traditional way. After the birth of No. 1, Fredia stayed home fulltime, she was burnt out on teaching anyway. As No. 2 & 3 came along, she continued in this mode and also would sit for single parents and parents with emergencies. The house was always full of kids back then! She started working partime in her current position after No. 3 went to school (With a homeschooling detour along the way) When No. 4 arrived, she was able to take him along as her live model for her job. Fredia has had this PT job for many years. She is more or less able to set her own hours and within 5 minutes of home and school.

Fredia has been working more hours recently but my employer has revised schedules to accommodate people's needs. (We are off every other Friday) and my immediate boss is much more open to telecommuting.

So, what has happened for us over the past 25 yrs or so is:

1) A greater recognition by our respective employers to provide a work/life balance

2)Freida and my decision to embrace our children as her FT job for many years.

3) My very long daily commute to compensate for the loss of Fredia's earned income in order to afford housing. Also, by living so far from the city I work in, we are able to use public schooling rather than having to send our children to private school. (You should have seen some of the crappy cars that I use to own!)

I KNOW that this is not possible or desirable for some people. My SIL is one who could never stay home with her children FT. I am not judging or criticizing anyone, I am just responding to the questions Leslie asked.

Posted by: Fred | February 16, 2007 10:47 AM

WorkingMomX-
I believe there will be many programs coming up in Wake as more and more people are forced into year round programs. However, I suggest looking ahead of time at NC State, Shaw or other students at other colleges in the area. There could be childhood psychology/education programs at these colleges where your kids could be enrolled...I'm trying to think outside the box here

Posted by: dotted | February 16, 2007 10:48 AM

Leslie, this is the reason you don't have a fourth child?!? What a slacker you are...just kidding, he he he.

I've always worked from home and now have my own business, so the kids come back here after school two days a week, and to a dance class the other days.

But, as a new business owner, with a retail store, and no employees yet, my flexibility has shot way down, as has my disposable income. Just yesterday when a ride fell through, I had to close the store for 30 minutes while I went to pick them up from school, a big no-no for business, especially on what was otherwise a very busy sales day.

Next year looks to be even more complex as my kids' school moves its location and my older child has asked to home school. Usually she, the older one, walks with the younger to an after school class or the library, and this will no longer be possible. The store will also be significantly farther from the new school location, as is our home. So next school year is going to ask a heckuva lot more from me after school hours than this year has, and frankly, I don't currently know how I will create that balance, and it is significantly adding to my stress.

Posted by: Dignity for Single Parents | February 16, 2007 10:48 AM

Wow, it seems as if lots of older siblings have been stuck being a caregiver to their siblings!!

I was as well and I did resent it then (still do, actually- it prevented me from doing after school acitivites and pursuing interests important to me)

Of course older kids should help out in a pinch- but not regular care.

Kids can learn to be responsible and pitch in to the family by doing the dishes, cleaning the house, cooking. They don't need to learn by raising their siblings!

They can also learn to be responsible by watching their parents do the same.
It's the parents' job to parent. There shouldn't be that blurry line between siblings on a daily basis.
Sibling relationships help one learn to cooperate, share, and develop great friendships- siblings aren't meant to be there for parenting lessons.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:48 AM

After yesterday's discussion of advertising, I thought others might enjoy this article about whether people fast forward past them on their DVRs:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/16/business/16commercials.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Maybe if more people start skipping them, advertisers will feel more pressure to be creative?

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 10:48 AM

Actually the comment about the older people who could barely walk didn't strike me as "contaminating" the little angel more a respect for their abilities. If someone has mobility problems they would not be able to chase after your pre-schooler.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | February 16, 2007 10:48 AM

Megan,
Actually when people skip ads, I bet advertisers will just place ads somewhere else...like continually running on the bottom of the screen like the peacock and ads for future shows. lol!

Posted by: dotted | February 16, 2007 10:53 AM

Re: older children babysitting for younger children
One of the best things that my parents did was to pay me for babysitting my (much) younger sister. Since I was in the comfort of my own home, they didn't pay as much as some of the other parents I sat for, but they paid a decent amount. It was also understood that I was only paid if I watched her for more than an hour - if my mom had to quickly run out to the store, I still watched her for free. This was a great arrangement for everyone. I never resented having to watch my sister, because I got paid for it - I actually looked forward to it. My parents always scheduled times when I needed to watch her and if I had other plans, they found another sitter (not too much of a problem, since they were already going to pay me). They got a responsible sitter. It was also understood that I was not being paid to just watch tv with her for 3 hours. My sister got someone that she knew. My parents made it clear that I was in charge, like any other sitter. Worked for everyone.

Posted by: Charlottesville | February 16, 2007 10:55 AM

... and then there are Children...

A story in Chicago Tribune:
At age 16, he's a senior--in college.
Started taking college classes at 11, while in high school. Five years later, Krzyzanowski, now 16, is a senior at North Central, preparing to graduate this summer with a triple major in physics, mathematics and computer science. Krzyzanowski's father, Zbigniew, recognized his son's passion for reading and mathematics when his son was about 4 or 5 years old. His father decided to home-school Krzyzanowski and his sister, Natalie, 14, who will graduate early from Naperville North High School this year.

This story shows the difference between the mundane stuff discussed on this blog, and really exciting stuff going on in real life. A difference between whining and doing. Btw, his stay at home father does night time shifts as a security guard to afford it.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/northshore/chi-0702120190feb12,1,6220182.story?page=2&coll=chi-newslocalnorthshore-hed

If you have problems with subscription, do Google News serach on "krzyzanowski"

Posted by: Not enough parents of gifted children on this blog? | February 16, 2007 10:56 AM

My parents would never leave us alone. With 8 boys, there was always a danger of fraticide! :)

Posted by: Fred | February 16, 2007 10:56 AM

Dotted, that's a great idea. I'll definitely check it out. We're going to need a sitter soon anyway after our au pair goes back.

About homeschooling -- I think there is this notion that kids who are homeschooled learn on the same schedule (i.e., 8:00-2:30 or something) that kids who go to public/private school are on. I believe that's true in some cases, but I know of parents who both work full-time and yet homeschool. The children are quite self-sufficient and independent, though they do have a sitter or someone with them during the day. One of my stepdaughter's friends is homeschooled and did all the teaching/learning herself in her high school years. She seems reasonably normal, I guess, though perhaps a bit shy. But she may have been in any case.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 16, 2007 10:59 AM

"Does ANYONE else NOT live in this "friendly retired neighbors/lovely stay at home mom available in a pinch/friends who'd drop anything to watch your sick kid" World???"

We definitely lucky to move into a neighborhood that was already fairly friendly, but we've also made a real effort to get to know our neighbors. We've hosted several parties, invited people over for dinner, offered help whenever we knew someone else might need it, that sort of thing. Not like that suddenly made an unfriendly street friendly, but I think that reaching out makes a difference. Do you think the other families/couples would be receptive if you tried to initiate some neighborly contact? I've lived in some urban neighborhoods where people were friendly, and some small-town neighborhoods where people were not, so I guess it's a little luck of the draw, but it might be worth trying to host a building party or something and see what happens.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 10:59 AM

I'm not apologizing for not wanting my child to be watched by a 70 yr old recovering from a stroke and a 73 yr old who is legally blind!
Yes my angel would be contaminated of one of these older citizens died while watching her or became incapacitated, leaving my child alone, scared, and confused!

Yes, I'm a horrible mother for not letting her get into these situations.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:59 AM

I am single and my family lives outside the DC metro area. A have a couple of very close friends who really enjoy watching my son, even if its not an emergency. For example, if I have a work-related event, I can let them know in advance, leave the car seat at daycare and they will pick him up. I've also got to know other parents in my son's daycare class and we've (informally) started swapping childcare on federal holidays that my private sector job doesn't recognize. In emergency situations, there is one parent at daycare who I'll allow to pick up my son. However in cases such as snow days and illness, I have to take PTO or LWOP and care for him. If its snowing enough to close daycare, I don't want to be on the street with him and if he's sick, I don't feel comfortable with anyone else caring for him. I have a happy, healthy child, but we wont be taking vacation anytime soon because I have no PTO.

Posted by: Cali Esq | February 16, 2007 11:01 AM

I've been watching The Waltons dvds with my kids for the past few weeks. It amazes me how hard they all worked, how they looked out for each other and were expected to, and how intelligent and developed they all were for lack of TV and distractions and for not beliving they (the kids) were entitled to be free from chores or responsibilities.

I know it is a fictionalized account of that family, but much of it is factually based, particularly the practical elements.

I don't get why anyone acts like giving kids chores, responsibilities, charge of younger kids or any of that is so wrong. Life is hard, and its hard all over, and much harder in other places on the globe than it is in N. America, by and large. For millenia families have helped each other survive, whether in hacking out the earth for planting or harvest or fishing the rough waters or beating the clothes clean. Why do we make the assumption that our kids today should be unburdened of the modern day version of that where an older kid keeps an ear out at the house or stewards the younger ones along to their activities or homework or whatever? The picture doesn't get better after age eighteen...college, work, paying bills, life's demands. There's time enough for enjoyment and play, too, but its bizarre to me to think there is a notion to not place familial demands on the family.

Posted by: Dignity for Single Parents | February 16, 2007 11:09 AM


My apologies to those who've heard this before, but it's on point. My sister home schools her oldest daughter and works full-time. She is self-employed and rents two offices in order to combine home-schooling with sustaining her practice. Her daughter does her schoolwork in the office next door to my sister's office. When there's a snow day and my youngest niece is out of school, both girls get the day off and the instructional time is made up on another day. My home-schooled niece is not shy in the least. She's on a tennis team, is active in her church, plays the violin in a small ensemble, text-messages other giggly girly girls on an hourly basis, etc. It works for them.

I have to laugh, WorkingMomX, though at your description of the year-round shift here in the Raleigh area. It's not ALL the schools. It's all the schools outside the beltline - for the Raleigh unaware - few if any of the wealthier kids and old-money neighborhoods are shifting to year-round. Oops, my political bias is showing. Back in the box. I've seen a ton of options during track-out periods, though, including those run by parks and rec, the Y, and all the usual suspects. The plethora and price-range of child-care options was a big draw to us in moving to this area. I don't do well with having to sign up for things 14 months before I need them. This area is heaven for procrastinating parents.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 11:10 AM

Like many others, I have no family in the area (and not remotely close, either - 3000 miles away) and knew pretty much no one when I moved here. I definitely can't claim I have any sense of balance on this issue. The first year I was here, I took a lot of leave without pay - and cried a lot! Luckily, my son's aftercare program is open on all teacher in service days and most snow days. I have only one plan B - a friend (who happens to be a single mom who homeschools) who does WAY WAY more than her fair share of being my emergency fill-in. She insists she doesn't mind - I choose to believe her :)
For the poster who asked at what age parents leave their children home alone, my son is ten and I have just started letting him walk home alone after school and let himself in. He is there for 1 hour before I get home from work. We just started this arrangement so I can't yet assess how well it's working out. A lot of parents strongly disagree with me that this situation is safe and appropriate, but I am of the opinion that kids do need to be given more responsibility as they show the capacity to handle it.

Posted by: TakomaMom | February 16, 2007 11:10 AM

I'm not apologizing for not wanting my child to be watched by a 70 yr old recovering from a stroke and a 73 yr old who is legally blind!
Yes my angel would be contaminated of one of these older citizens died while watching her or became incapacitated, leaving my child alone, scared, and confused!

If your child is not old enough to call 911 I agree. But what if YOU had an emergency while at home with her? Wouldn't she become "alone, scared, and confused" then? You say the stroke patient is well enough to be cared for at home by someone who is legally blind (gasp!), so evidently they are competent on their own. Or is it more that you don't want your child to find out that people who have challenges to cope with in life can also be useful and productive citizens still?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 11:13 AM

I tried to post this but it did not go through. SACC is the school aged child care program run through the Fairfax county schools. It serves as before and after school care, spring and winter break, a 7 week summer camp, teacher work days, early dissimal and half day kindergarten care. It is very reasonably priced. It is based on a sliding scale. For families of hhld incomes over 50K/year, you pay the full price. During the school year for grades 1-5, it is $381 approximately and more for summer sessions and spring/winter break sessions. Kindergarteners pay an extra $262 a month. I think they are open from 7-6 M-F. They are not open for snow days. And the obviously don't take sick children. You must be a Fairfax school aged child.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 16, 2007 11:17 AM

Hmmm, NC Lawyer, I've actually heard exactly the opposite regarding the schools (Wakefield? Cary schools?), but I'll defer to you as we've only recently moved to the area and I need to do more homework. But I agree with you that there are MASSES of childcare options down here and bound to be more with the year-round thing happening.

The thing is, and this is something I know I'll be struggling with, my concept of raising my family didn't include not getting my kids on OR off the bus and putting them in before/after school care. I always somehow thought that a parent would be home. I just need to get over it, though.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 16, 2007 11:17 AM

Thanks for all the replies re: homeschooling. That actual makes some sense to me now. Still don't know how I'd do it myself (the very thought of preparing 6-7 different lesson plans for my children everyday on top of working full time puts me in a panic!), but more power to those who can. I guess the lesson is that different things work for different families.

Posted by: londonmom | February 16, 2007 11:19 AM

Don't forget that the Waltons had elderly grandparents contaminating their little angels! Actor Will Geer died suddenly, and later Ellen Corby had a stroke which left her with physical and speech limitations. So Grandpa's death was written into the script, and Grandma's character wasn't kicked to the curb, she kept living with them. Interestingly, in real life several of the child actors remained friends with Corby for the rest of her life.

Posted by: To Dignity for Single Parents | February 16, 2007 11:20 AM

"Does ANYONE else NOT live in this "friendly retired neighbors/lovely stay at home mom available in a pinch/friends who'd drop anything to watch your sick kid" World???"

My retired neighbors and SAHMs are all nosy Parkers and big boozers.

As others have stated, friends should be one of the last options on the child care list.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 11:20 AM

Thanks for all the replies re: homeschooling. That actual makes some sense to me now. Still don't know how I'd do it myself (the very thought of preparing 6-7 different lesson plans for my children everyday on top of working full time puts me in a panic!), but more power to those who can. I guess the lesson is that different things work for different families.

Posted by: londonmom | February 16, 2007 11:21 AM

Inhabitants of the New World had chili peppers and the makings of taco chips 6,100 years ago, according to new research that examined the bowl-scrapings of people sprinkled throughout Central America and the Amazon basin.

See today's Wash Post. This is great!

Posted by: Food News! | February 16, 2007 11:22 AM

"It took me a long time to trust other parents with my kids, though. At least until my oldest was five. It was hard to let go and trust. I still have a hard time when driving is involved. I am amazed at the number of adults who think carseats and seatbelts are optional for young children."

Leslie, this is a good point. I feel exactly the same way, and my kids are three and six. And one is disabled. And the closest family is my mother, who is great about helping out in a pinch. Friends who have offered don't live close by, and I don't have much time available to make new ones. I'm in a semi-crisis now with aftercare, because my son's disability and needs aren't really understood where he is. It may be time to look into a special-needs nanny service for him, or respite care for after school.

Megan, you were lucky to move into such a neighbhorhood. Where I live now, my neighbors are certainly nice enough, but everyone pretty much keeps to him or herself, except for an exclusive clique that runs everything.


Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 16, 2007 11:23 AM

Inhabitants of the New World had chili peppers and the makings of taco chips 6,100 years ago, according to new research that examined the bowl-scrapings of people sprinkled throughout Central America and the Amazon basin.

See today's Wash Post. This is great!

Posted by: Food News! | February 16, 2007

But - did they have cheetos?

Posted by: Missicat | February 16, 2007 11:23 AM

I am lucky to live near my parents and aunt, and they are my backup in childcare emergencies. My mother watches my son after school two days every week. On those days, we also eat dinner at her house. She also watches my son on school holidays and vacations, except for summer vacation. During the summer, we enroll my son in day camp. When my mother is not available to do this, my aunt takes over. In fact, my mother and aunt often do it together, since they spend a lot of time together anyway. We are very lucky that both these ladies are retired, in good health, and absolutely love my son, who is the only grandchild and grandnephew on my side of the family. My mother feels entitled to have first dibs on babysitting, and my son loves hanging out at his grandmother's house. We are also very lucky to live very close to our family.

On the rare day that neither my mother nor aunt can help out, my husband or I will stay home with out son. In a real pinch, we pay our neighbor to babysit.

Posted by: Emily | February 16, 2007 11:25 AM

If your child is not old enough to call 911 I agree. But what if YOU had an emergency while at home with her? Wouldn't she become "alone, scared, and confused" then? You say the stroke patient is well enough to be cared for at home by someone who is legally blind (gasp!), so evidently they are competent on their own. Or is it more that you don't want your child to find out that people who have challenges to cope with in life can also be useful and productive citizens still?

Maybe, just maybe (stay with me here), the 70 yr old recovering from a stroke doesn't WANT to watch her kids? Is that a remote possibility? And your last sentence makes no sense.

Posted by: bunk | February 16, 2007 11:25 AM

"DH and I have usually tried to get orthogonal schedules at work "

KB I don't know what you teach, but I am on my knees thanking God that I never took a course from you.

What a crashing bore! A real sleeping aid!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 11:28 AM

"Or is it more that you don't want your child to find out that people who have challenges to cope with in life can also be useful and productive citizens still?"

I think it's a little bit ridiculous to scorn someone for not wanting to leave a young child alone with an elderly couple who are not in good health. Not wanting to use them for childcare is not the same as not wanting her ever to come into contact with them. I think it would be rather difficult for someone recovering from a stroke to watch a young a child and it would be unfair to ask them to.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 11:29 AM

Still don't know how I'd do it myself (the very thought of preparing 6-7 different lesson plans for my children everyday on top of working full time puts me in a panic!).

Londonmom, didn't realize we'd left you with this misconception. You purchase a curriculum from one of many providers of such to homeschooling family -- you are NOT developing lesson plans. I'm sure there are one or two families out there just winging it, but I haven't met any. Like many educational products, good curricula get more expensive at the higher grades.

Missicat: or red wine?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 11:31 AM

So I just got the latest issue of Parents and in it was a very interesting article on rude kids and how there seem to be more of them than there used to.

The reasons?

1)Full time working parents. By the time parents get off work they are tired and miss their kids and let things slide.

2)Increase in considering the child's needs/wants/developmental milestones, etc.

ex.Letting kids "explore" and climb everywhere in order to develop their creative sides (and extending this to restaurants and other inappropriate public aplaces)
. Letting your kids off the hook when they say "shut up" or other similar offenses by reasoning that he's having a hard time with the school/home transition (or some other issue)
Also, separating the child's behavior with the child himself.

What does everyone else think?

I think there are fewer parents now who simply tell their children "no". Kids don't always need an explanation. Parents shouldn't have to reason or bargain with their kids everyday.

I am personally a lot more strict with my daughter than women I know. If we're in a restaurant and she starts to act up, we leave. That's the end of it- she will not gt a special treat if she behaves. She is expected to behave from the get-go. As a result, we can now take her to very nice places and she's only 3. Same with shopping and walking down the street. She holds my hand or sits in the stroller. End of story. There's no running all over the place and hiding in racks of clothes. (I rarely drag her to the mall, but if we have to go...)

Are parents now raising little monsters?

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork- Latest Parents Magazine | February 16, 2007 11:31 AM

I can understand home schooling and working full time with an older child or teleworking and homeschooling. Or that unique situation of the lawyer renting more office space. But if you have a regular 9-5 out of the house job and want to home school an elementary school children and are single. Who watches the kid while you work? I can understand that you can swap school lessons to the evenings and weekends but that still leaves care for the younger child during normal working hours. I did know a family that home schools with two full time working parents. But the kids were older and they worked opposite shifts. Leslie is right. I suggested this topic last week. Interesting answers so far.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 16, 2007 11:32 AM

Of course NO ONE would want their child watched by the elderly couple if THEY were unwilling to do it. But I reasonably assumed from your earlier comment that the elderly couple had offered, but you were declining it. My last sentence makes perfect sense: I was wondering whether you didn't want your child to see people with handicaps, or to grow up believing that they still had abilities, because you thought it might be scary or something.

Posted by: To bunk | February 16, 2007 11:34 AM

"DH and I have usually tried to get orthogonal schedules at work "

Better than a Klein schedule!

Posted by: Euclid | February 16, 2007 11:36 AM

"An awareness of how draining childcare can be is the best form of birth control for teenagers."

I worked in a large department store while in high school. It was the best form of birth control I've ever known, especially around Christmas.

However, I'm not sure that consistently having to take care of younger siblings is a good idea. In a pinch, sure. It can definitely help, and gives a sense of responsibility to the older kid. But my sister had to watch us every day after school. She's now a single mother with no education, which would be fine, except she doesn't appear too happy with her situation. I always wondered if having to take care of us made having kids of her own seem the next logical step to her, so she didn't bother getting an education or a job before having kids.

Posted by: Mona | February 16, 2007 11:36 AM

"But if you have a regular 9-5 out of the house job and want to home school an elementary school children and are single. Who watches the kid while you work?"

The families I know who do this usually have grandparents who care for the children during the day and either grandma/grandpa help with the homeschooling, or the parent does the schooling in the evening, or they're unschoolers so it's not an issue. But even if there aren't grandparents around to help, it's not like childcare isn't out there for older children. One family I know with two working parents had a nanny - the same thing could be done for a single parent. And other homeschoolers sometimes help out with childcare needs - both adults who are homeschooling their own children or homeschooled teens.

Posted by: momof4 | February 16, 2007 11:38 AM

foamgnome, My sister is not a lawyer. She makes about $30K and works full-time out of the house. She changed careers in order to make it work. It does take some creativity and would not have worked with her prior job.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 11:38 AM

Experienced mom, 19 years and still at home? I hope they regularly changed your diaper... or are you able to change your own? ROTFLMAO!

Posted by: Chris | February 16, 2007 11:41 AM

For all of you who make snarky comments to me in the last few day, I will say, it is COLD down here. It was about 30 last night, right now, it is 38 and very windy.

Posted by: Fred | February 16, 2007 11:41 AM

I am surprised how no one suggested that schools should coincide their times with office times. Why have such long summer vacations, instead split the 2 months into 1 month in summer and 1 in winter.

Posted by: in LA | February 16, 2007 11:42 AM

For the poster who asked at what age parents leave their children home alone, my son is ten and I have just started letting him walk home alone after school and let himself in. He is there for 1 hour before I get home from work. We just started this arrangement so I can't yet assess how well it's working out. A lot of parents strongly disagree with me that this situation is safe and appropriate, but I am of the opinion that kids do need to be given more responsibility as they show the capacity to handle it.

Posted by: TakomaMom | February 16, 2007 11:10 AM

We also let our 11 year old stay by himself after school starting this year. He hated after-school programs and DH is generally home by 4:30. When our son showed he was responsible enough to handle a little freedom, we decided it was time to give it to him. Kids become more responsible when we give them a chance to be responsible. If there's always someone else around, they rely on others to meet all their needs. As others have said , no one knows your child like you.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 11:43 AM

"You purchase a curriculum from one of many providers of such to homeschooling"

I'm confused. If it's as easy as buying a curriculum, why are teachers required to have advanced degrees, certification, continuing education, etc.?

How can teachers' unions justify asking for salary increases if teaching is so simple?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 11:43 AM

Fred, HA HA!! That's funny. It was 8 degrees yesterday morning when I drove my son to daycare. But I can't complain as today is lovely - it was in the upper 30s when I took my son to daycare and is supposed to hit 50 today - hooray!

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 11:44 AM

Our family members all worked when my kids were in school, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. so they weren't readily available for child care. The grandmothers would occasionally take time off to be with the grandchildren on scheduled school closed days, but unexpected closings didn't work.

Our solution was that I would not take any job where I would not be able to leave on a moments notice for my children, whether it be because they were sick or school closed. We did have after-school care that was also available for most scheduled closings, and only chose summer camps that had extended hours. That helped to minimize the times when I had to leave work or stay home, since it was only when the children was sick or after-care programs were closed.

I work for the government and have consciously limited my upward mobility to those positions that allow me the same flexibility. And the times I do stay home, I use leave, so my vacations have been fewer and shorter. But, life is full of trade-offs, and I found that not having to stress over child care issues has been well worth the loss of potential income and advancement.

My story only - not saying that everyone should make the same choices.

Posted by: anon this time | February 16, 2007 11:45 AM

I LOVED my summers in NOVA growing up. Even though I know it will be a pain if/when both DH and I are working and our kids are off on summer-break, I feel like those were the best parts of my childhood and would hate for DS not to experience. Curious as to whether other people feel the same way or is the pain of it all (e.g., finding childcare and camps) not worth it?

Posted by: londonmom | February 16, 2007 11:46 AM

Here's some advice to other dual-working (full-time) parents based on my experience, what's worked, what hasn't, what I would have done differently (and still trying to figure out). I have no family in the area (the living grandmothers are fairly old anyway and neither retired early) and have relied on friends only very occasionally (occasional early dismissals or no school days) (For the record: I have one kid in primary school and one in middle school.):

1) Don't underestimate the value of having family (grandparents, siblings) nearby. We don't and we see the huge difference it makes for our friends who do. Especially those who are fortunate enough to have youngish parents that are either retired or work part-time and can help out. if you are not from here, you may want to reconsider the Washington DC area if you can pursue your career elsewhere closer to family. (We really can't -- our jobs are closely connected to policy work.)

2) Make sure your child's school has a quality afterschool program. Find out what they do, staff ratio, accountability, etc. If it is not, work to make it better or find a good outside vendor to run it (e.g. Wonders Childcare (used to be All Saints All Day) is one such vendor at several area public and private schools). Afterschool programs are great if your child is sociable, a self-starter with homework and needs minimal homework assistance (ie. no special learning issues or ADHD).

3) Downside of the afterschool programs. Kids cannot stay past 6 pm usually (sometimes 6:30pm). Even so, this can be pretty late to have dinner etc. They can't go to the regular orthodontist appointments or other check ups. Not all kids have the stamina for it every day and some kids need more one-on-one for homework. Some kids have interests in taking music lessons or dance or sports that are in other locations. They need to be taken there. (Upshot for me, it worked great for one kid for most of primary school; not for the other one -- so when the younger one was in second grade I began to hire a college student to pick both kids up afterschool, help her with homeowork, start dinner and take her to music lessons or appointments) (see next #)

4) College and grad students can be great part-time sitters. Grad students (though less available) are usually better because they are more likely to have cars, fewer classes and more predictable schedules. Downside is turnover. But we have had some great college students. It is worth living close to a college campus for this (because students who don't have a car can easily get to your home and drive your car). I wish I had known that before I bought a home -- I didn't. Is this more expensive than the after-school? Yes, but it's what my kids need. Most want $13-15 per hour plus gas (or use my car.

4) Older siblings are good for a gap in the afternoon but they can't drive until they are 17. Also, they may have activities afterschool, sports and other interests beyond caring for younger siblings every day. do they have to give up all those things because they were born first? Also, the end of their school day may not work with the younger children. (My older child's regular school day is longer than my younger child's)

5) A lot of the nannies that people hire to care for their babies and toddlers won't work as well for afterschool because of cost, inability to drive (some) and inability to help with homework. Some of my friends who have loving long-term nannies that drive but have limited English abilities will hire a student to help with homework if that's needed. Additional expense. There is a good supply of nannies and students in this area but the demand is also very high. (If you're still reading, has one spouse quit their job or thinking about sterilization surgery yet?)

6) If you haven't purchased a home yet, consider if at all possible (we really didn't -- to our regret) whether your home could accomodate the option of having a live in nanny or foreign au pair. Some of my friends have used foreign au pairs and they can offer great flexiblity and are less expensive than most regular live out nannies. Not everyone wants someone living under their roof and this arrangement has issues too but for couples whose work involves travel its a godsend. Also, college students and nannies can quit on short notice, the au pair commits for at least one year, and sometimes can extend for an additional 6-12 months.

7) For summers, see all of the above (at least there may not be regular homework!). The problem is most people I know including me don't get 6-8 weeks vacation. I still find it strange that most summer camps here don't have programs for most of August, as if everyone just leaves town for 3-4 weeks. (It's an annually struggle/nightmare as the most I can ever pull off is one week vacation leaving us to figure out the other 2-3 weeks)

That's my contribution. As you can see it's really imperfect and it's a challenge. (I miss the golden days of a good quality, year-round daycare/pre-school.) I think this is the first topic on this blog that truly tries to address a pressing balance issue, and I really welcome the constructive ideas and suggestions of other contributors. (BTW, I almost quit reading and contributing to this blog after the inane Anna N Smith topic earlier in the week, as well as some of the nasty digressions lately such as the battle of opinions on the impact of alcoholic parents. Please let's not have today's topic get hijacked into a nasty and pointless discussion of home-schooling versus institutional education. It's not germane to how working parents handle the care of their school-aged children when they are not in school.

Posted by: SuziQ | February 16, 2007 11:49 AM

Any good recommendations for daycamps in Montgomery County?

Posted by: Emily | February 16, 2007 11:49 AM

"And this aspect of "balance" is one reason I don't have a fourth child."

A FOURTH child? First of all, nobody needs more than two children. Second, anybody who wants BALANCE shouldn't have more than two. Two parents, two children, two jobs, get it? Total balance. Why on earth would anyone want four children, other than some misplaced desire to spread one's DNA all over the place?

Plus, isn't anyone worried about sustainability? Humans aren't exactly in danger of becoming extinct, not in this country anyway, and unless you plan on donating yours to a country losing people to starvation and genocide, it simply doesn't make sense.

If you like kids so much, why not open a day-care and help the rest of the parents on this blog with their child-care arrangements?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 11:50 AM

Re: the little monsters

My parents were very old-school, as in children should be seen and not heard, at least not too often. If I was too active, loud, or "sassy" I was disciplined swiftly. I can't duplicate this. First, I like my son's personality to come through. Second, there is something about a mans voice that makes a little boy straighten up (at least me little boy). I don't know why, and others may disagree, but when my father, brother, or male friends speak to my son in an authoritative manner, he stops whatever he is doing. There is no man in the house, so he wont have the same experience I had. Please don't misunderstand, he obeys me and is not bad child. I do not condone disrespect, and demand he be nice, however he's not quite at the age where he understands that even if you tell the truth, its not always a "nice" thing to say. It bothers me to see children climbing all over any and everything, so I don't allow him to do that. Bottom line is I try to set boudaries and be consistent. However that's often easier said than done.

Posted by: Cali Esq | February 16, 2007 11:50 AM

"You purchase a curriculum from one of many providers of such to homeschooling"

I'm confused. If it's as easy as buying a curriculum, why are teachers required to have advanced degrees, certification, continuing education, etc.?

How can teachers' unions justify asking for salary increases if teaching is so simple?

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 11:43 AM

Oh, please. let's not go there again. It's not the politics board. It's the On Balance Board. But since you insist, . . teachers aren't required to have advanced degrees - they get paid more if they have one and since when has any union had to have an objective justification to ask for more compensation. Are you under the impression that such a demand is somehow connected to the discussion of whether and how homeschooling might work for a single parent? londonmom's specific comment was in regard to preparing a lesson plan. Curricula eliminate the need for a teacher to prepare a lesson plan. Question answered.

If your schools are meeting the needs of your children, great, but stop hammering those who've gone a different route.

Fred - who could ever be snarky to you?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 11:51 AM

Most education research shows that the best teachers have deep content knowledge. Buying a curriculum (no matter how good it is) and placing it in front of a child will not amount to the same experience a child would have in a group setting with a lead teacher. Note that I did not say one was better than the other. But most kids benefit greatly from being around their peers instead of their families day in, day out. Think about teenagers. Who matters more to them, their friends or their families? It's just the way it is.

My brother was homeschooled so he could pursue skiing, which he excelled at from an early age. Though he's in his late 20s now, he definitely feels that he missed out on the America ideal of education -- prom, school sports, classes and lockers, etc. I know a number of adults who were homeschooled who feel this way.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 11:51 AM

"You purchase a curriculum from one of many providers of such to homeschooling"

I'm confused. If it's as easy as buying a curriculum, why are teachers required to have advanced degrees, certification, continuing education, etc.?

How can teachers' unions justify asking for salary increases if teaching is so simple?

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 11:43 AM

I agree completely with anon at 11:43!

If it's as easy as buying a set of materials, then I should be able to step into a chemistry class and start teaching out of a box, huh? (I am ridiculously awful at chemistry)
Interesting.

I think most of the homeschooled kids portrayed on the blog today (such as in that article posted) are very bright and would excel in any environment in which they were placed. These are the kids that can self teach a variety of subjects and do winderfully.

I was extrememly bored at school and ended up teaching myself (like an independent study)- but I still went to school and did the clubs, made friends, sports. But instead of going to English class I would have my own curriculum and go to the library. I would usually go to AP History, but sometimes had different assignments and books. I went to my science and math classes as usual.
I also started college courses summer before senior year. These courses, in addition to AP put me a year ahead in college.

Most schools will work with parents in these situations (disclaimer- i grew up in a wealthy area with good schools)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 11:51 AM

to anon at 11:43

Teaching a class of 20+ kids you just met in September is a fundamentally different task than teaching your own kids. Homeschooling is a natural extension of parenting. Teaching school is a profession, because they need to be able teach every kind of kid who walks into their classroom. I don't need to know about learning styles or disabilities my kids don't have, and I don't have to worry about figuring out what they did or didn't learn from their last teacher.

If anyone is curious about the incredible wealth of choices available to homeschooling parents, surf over to: rainbowresource.com
(I am not affiliated in any way with the company).

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | February 16, 2007 11:54 AM

Does anyone feel like its more important to be home after school when the kids are in their teens and "up to no good"? I know some parents who are really working when the kids are small so that someone can be home to keep an eye on them when they are older. Thoughts?

Posted by: moxiemom | February 16, 2007 11:57 AM

10 & 11 year olds home alone -

In my state the parents would be in trouble with CPS. At least give these kids cell phones to keep with them at all times once they leave school. And check on them frequently.

Sounds really risky to me. And may be scary and lonely for the kids, at times. Even if they don't tell you so.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 11:57 AM

"I'm confused. If it's as easy as buying a curriculum, why are teachers required to have advanced degrees, certification, continuing education, etc.?"

Teaching one or two children that you know extremely well is different than teaching 30 kids who have different personalities, learning styles and abilities.

And as someone else noted, a teacher who has a deep knowledge of the subject area can offer more on that subject than an out-of-the-box curriculum ever could. I think a good homeschooling parent can compensate for that difference in various ways due to the one-on-one nature of homeschooling, but comparing that what it takes to teach a classroom full of kids is like comparing apples and watermelons.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 11:59 AM

Not being snarky, just genuinely curious. Don't kids need to be away from their parents, i.e., during school, in order to learn to make their own decisions, develop independence from their parents, etc.? Doesn't homeschooling deprive them of the time away from home they need to develop on their own? Isn't there a higher incidence of 20+ year-old "children" living at home who were homeschooled when young?

Posted by: just curious | February 16, 2007 11:59 AM

I have consciously limited my upward mobility to those positions that allow me the same flexibility. And the times I do stay home, I use leave.

Precisely the sort of balance this blog is trying to find out.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 11:59 AM

Any suggestions on places to have a 3 y/o b-day party?

Posted by: Cali Esq | February 16, 2007 12:00 PM

In my state kids can stay home after starting at 8. I walked home from school starting at 11 and loved my time alone after school reading and playing computer games.

8 is too young, but I see nothing wrong with 10-12, depending on the child. And of course, 12 is the cut-off age for aftercare programs.

Posted by: to 11:57 | February 16, 2007 12:01 PM

"I'm confused. If it's as easy as buying a curriculum, why are teachers required to have advanced degrees, certification, continuing education, etc.?"

Teaching one or two children that you know extremely well is different than teaching 30 kids who have different personalities, learning styles and abilities.

And as someone else noted, a teacher who has a deep knowledge of the subject area can offer more on that subject than an out-of-the-box curriculum ever could. I think a good homeschooling parent can compensate for that difference in various ways due to the one-on-one nature of homeschooling, but comparing that what it takes to teach a classroom full of kids is like comparing apples and watermelons.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 12:01 PM

"Does anyone feel like its more important to be home after school when the kids are in their teens and "up to no good"? I know some parents who are really working when the kids are small so that someone can be home to keep an eye on them when they are older. Thoughts?"

Moxiemom, I have wondered the same thing. A friend of mine who's got older children (11 and 13) has worked since they were born and starting in the fall intends to be home with them until they're out of high school. She said that with their sports, activities, and friends, she wanted to be available when they were of an age to possibly get into serious trouble if unsupervised. Obviously, with younger children, there's no question about supervision, but her girls are of an age when they could be home alone.

I am also interested in hearing other people's comments on this subject.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 16, 2007 12:03 PM

In my state kids can stay home after starting at 8. I walked home from school starting at 11 and loved my time alone after school reading and playing computer games.

8 is too young, but I see nothing wrong with 10-12, depending on the child. And of course, 12 is the cut-off age for aftercare programs.

Posted by: to 11:57 | February 16, 2007 12:03 PM

SuziQ - great post. And very good suggestions. I don't really have much experience with these issues yet as my child is pre-school, but I am trying to see into the future to figure out how it will all work. One thing I know for sure is the importance of having family and close friends nearby. I miss having grandparents around who want to watch my DS every opportunity they get. And with close friends, the ones I'm thinking of are those with kids around the same age who would always help out in an emergency because we would do the same for them.

I've heard of families that form a sort of "cooperative" and that seems to work well too.

Posted by: londonmom | February 16, 2007 12:04 PM

11:43, probably because parents are foisting brats like you on them. :P I see where you are coming from... especially since a lot of teachers just do not care or involve themselves in the development of the children. If it is just a paycheck to them, they should not be teachers. The public school curriculum is so much watered down worthless garbage anyway.
I liked the answer about extending school hours, but only if the quality goes up. Maybe a reduced staff homework time where the majority of faculty could go home and kids could work on their stuff in a study hall environment. That way, when they got home, they could have more fun than just doing homework. Or, perhaps schools could start offering more extra-curricular clubs. I know a chess club could eat up an hour or two a day and sharpen minds... chess sets are available for a dollar or two from some stores. Heck, even a video game club in a computer lab could be a low-cost way of keeping kids after school. Sport clubs are a possibility too, and would help do something about the growing obesity problem- my interests run more to fencing than other sports, but certainly there ARE numberous alternatives that would be less costly and more beneficial than packing kids off to daycare or dumping them on a friend or relative all the time.

Posted by: Chris | February 16, 2007 12:05 PM

For all of you who make snarky comments to me in the last few day, I will say, it is COLD down here. It was about 30 last night, right now, it is 38 and very windy.

Posted by: Fred | February 16, 2007 12:07 PM

Here's some advice to other dual-working (full-time) parents based on my experience, what's worked, what hasn't, what I would have done differently (and still trying to figure out). I have no family in the area (the living grandmothers are fairly old anyway and neither retired early) and have relied on friends only very occasionally (occasional early dismissals or no school days) (For the record: I have one kid in primary school and one in middle school.):

1) Don't underestimate the value of having family (grandparents, siblings) nearby. We don't and we see the huge difference it makes for our friends who do. Especially those who are fortunate enough to have youngish parents that are either retired or work part-time and can help out. if you are not from here, you may want to reconsider the Washington DC area if you can pursue your career elsewhere closer to family. (We really can't -- our jobs are closely connected to policy work.)

2) Make sure your child's school has a quality afterschool program. Find out what they do, staff ratio, accountability, etc. If it is not, work to make it better or find a good outside vendor to run it (e.g. Wonders Childcare (used to be All Saints All Day) is one such vendor at several area public and private schools). Afterschool programs are great if your child is sociable, a self-starter with homework and needs minimal homework assistance (ie. no special learning issues or ADHD).

3) Downside of the afterschool programs. Kids cannot stay past 6 pm usually (sometimes 6:30pm). Even so, this can be pretty late to have dinner etc. They can't go to the regular orthodontist appointments or other check ups. Not all kids have the stamina for it every day and some kids need more one-on-one for homework. Some kids have interests in taking music lessons or dance or sports that are in other locations. They need to be taken there. (Upshot for me, it worked great for one kid for most of primary school; not for the other one -- so when the younger one was in second grade I began to hire a college student to pick both kids up afterschool, help her with homeowork, start dinner and take her to music lessons or appointments) (see next #)

4) College and grad students can be great part-time sitters. Grad students (though less available) are usually better because they are more likely to have cars, fewer classes and more predictable schedules. Downside is turnover. But we have had some great college students. It is worth living close to a college campus for this (because students who don't have a car can easily get to your home and drive your car). I wish I had known that before I bought a home -- I didn't. Is this more expensive than the after-school? Yes, but it's what my kids need. Most want $13-15 per hour plus gas (or use my car.

4) Older siblings are good for a gap in the afternoon but they can't drive until they are 17. Also, they may have activities afterschool, sports and other interests beyond caring for younger siblings every day. do they have to give up all those things because they were born first? Also, the end of their school day may not work with the younger children. (My older child's regular school day is longer than my younger child's)

5) A lot of the nannies that people hire to care for their babies and toddlers won't work as well for afterschool because of cost, inability to drive (some) and inability to help with homework. Some of my friends who have loving long-term nannies that drive but have limited English abilities will hire a student to help with homework if that's needed. Additional expense. There is a good supply of nannies and students in this area but the demand is also very high. (If you're still reading, has one spouse quit their job or thinking about sterilization surgery yet?)

6) If you haven't purchased a home yet, consider if at all possible (we really didn't -- to our regret) whether your home could accomodate the option of having a live in nanny or foreign au pair. Some of my friends have used foreign au pairs and they can offer great flexiblity and are less expensive than most regular live out nannies. Not everyone wants someone living under their roof and this arrangement has issues too but for couples whose work involves travel its a godsend. Also, college students and nannies can quit on short notice, the au pair commits for at least one year, and sometimes can extend for an additional 6-12 months.

7) For summers, see all of the above (at least there may not be regular homework!). The problem is most people I know including me don't get 6-8 weeks vacation. I still find it strange that most summer camps here don't have programs for most of August, as if everyone just leaves town for 3-4 weeks. (It's an annually struggle/nightmare as the most I can ever pull off is one week vacation leaving us to figure out the other 2-3 weeks)
8) If at least one parent can get some flexibility in their hours or work from home some (or all of the time) it can make all the difference. Not everyone has a job or occupatioon that permits that but think about it ahead of time. We have limited flexibility but oftentimes when a child has been sick, we would split the day -- onr of us would go to work in very early (say 6 am) and work until early afternoon, and the other would go in early afternoon and work until say 8pm. (Obviously, that too does not work for those with fixed shift schedules).

9) Finally, do not underestimate the importance of teaching your kids (and their caregivers, schools & teachers)good hygiene. My kids were indoctrinated into washing hands after using the bathroom, and before eating, and their school has now put alcohol foam dispensers in the classroom. These practices have made a big difference in catching routine colds.

That's my contribution. As you can see it's really imperfect and it's a real challenge. (I miss the golden days of a good quality, year-round daycare/pre-school --that was so much easier.) I think this is the first topic on this blog that truly tries to address a pressing balance issue, and I really welcome the constructive ideas and suggestions of other contributors.

Posted by: SuziQ | February 16, 2007 12:07 PM

"In my state kids can stay home after starting at 8."

What state is that? Have you checked the law lately? If true, this is pretty shocking. Some kids are still breast feeding at age 8.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:09 PM

Re: keeping high-schoolers out of trouble.

In my experience, any kid in high school either can drive or has friends that can drive. It doesn't much matter where the parents are, because if teenagers want to get into trouble, they will find a way -- I always did!

I think the best you can hope for is some mid-grade rebellion while still in high school so they can get it out of their system. Some of my friends who were straight-laced in high school went nuts in college, but I'd already gotten it out of my system and could focus on getting an education, getting a job, etc.

Posted by: catmommy | February 16, 2007 12:09 PM

Any suggestions on places to have a 3 y/o b-day party?

Posted by: Cali Esq | February 16, 2007 12:00 PM

At home! Where else, he's three?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:10 PM

Re: keeping high-schoolers out of trouble.

In my experience, any kid in high school either can drive or has friends that can drive. It doesn't much matter where the parents are, because if teenagers want to get into trouble, they will find a way -- I always did!

I think the best you can hope for is some mid-grade rebellion while still in high school so they can get it out of their system. Some of my friends who were straight-laced in high school went nuts in college, but I'd already gotten it out of my system and could focus on getting an education, getting a job, etc.

Posted by: catmommy | February 16, 2007 12:11 PM

Here's some advice to other dual-working (full-time) parents based on my experience, what's worked, what hasn't, what I would have done differently (and still trying to figure out). I have no family in the area (the living grandmothers are fairly old anyway and neither retired early) and have relied on friends only very occasionally (occasional early dismissals or no school days) (For the record: I have one kid in primary school and one in middle school.):

1) Don't underestimate the value of having family (grandparents, siblings) nearby. We don't and we see the huge difference it makes for our friends who do. Especially those who are fortunate enough to have youngish parents that are either retired or work part-time and can help out. if you are not from here, you may want to reconsider the Washington DC area if you can pursue your career elsewhere closer to family. (We really can't -- our jobs are closely connected to policy work.)

2) Make sure your child's school has a quality afterschool program. Find out what they do, staff ratio, accountability, etc. If it is not, work to make it better or find a good outside vendor to run it (e.g. Wonders Childcare (used to be All Saints All Day) is one such vendor at several area public and private schools). Afterschool programs are great if your child is sociable, a self-starter with homework and needs minimal homework assistance (ie. no special learning issues or ADHD).

3) Downside of the afterschool programs. Kids cannot stay past 6 pm usually (sometimes 6:30pm). Even so, this can be pretty late to have dinner etc. They can't go to the regular orthodontist appointments or other check ups. Not all kids have the stamina for it every day and some kids need more one-on-one for homework. Some kids have interests in taking music lessons or dance or sports that are in other locations. They need to be taken there. (Upshot for me, it worked great for one kid for most of primary school; not for the other one -- so when the younger one was in second grade I began to hire a college student to pick both kids up afterschool, help her with homeowork, start dinner and take her to music lessons or appointments) (see next #)

4) College and grad students can be great part-time sitters. Grad students (though less available) are usually better because they are more likely to have cars, fewer classes and more predictable schedules. Downside is turnover. But we have had some great college students. It is worth living close to a college campus for this (because students who don't have a car can easily get to your home and drive your car). I wish I had known that before I bought a home -- I didn't. Is this more expensive than the after-school? Yes, but it's what my kids need. Most want $13-15 per hour plus gas (or use my car.

4) Older siblings are good for a gap in the afternoon but they can't drive until they are 17. Also, they may have activities afterschool, sports and other interests beyond caring for younger siblings every day. do they have to give up all those things because they were born first? Also, the end of their school day may not work with the younger children. (My older child's regular school day is longer than my younger child's)

5) A lot of the nannies that people hire to care for their babies and toddlers won't work as well for afterschool because of cost, inability to drive (some) and inability to help with homework. Some of my friends who have loving long-term nannies that drive but have limited English abilities will hire a student to help with homework if that's needed. Additional expense. There is a good supply of nannies and students in this area but the demand is also very high. (If you're still reading, has one spouse quit their job or thinking about sterilization surgery yet?)

6) If you haven't purchased a home yet, consider if at all possible (we really didn't -- to our regret) whether your home could accomodate the option of having a live in nanny or foreign au pair. Some of my friends have used foreign au pairs and they can offer great flexiblity and are less expensive than most regular live out nannies. Not everyone wants someone living under their roof and this arrangement has issues too but for couples whose work involves travel its a godsend. Also, college students and nannies can quit on short notice, the au pair commits for at least one year, and sometimes can extend for an additional 6-12 months.

7) For summers, see all of the above (at least there may not be regular homework!). The problem is most people I know including me don't get 6-8 weeks vacation. I still find it strange that most summer camps here don't have programs for most of August, as if everyone just leaves town for 3-4 weeks. (It's an annually struggle/nightmare as the most I can ever pull off is one week vacation leaving us to figure out the other 2-3 weeks)

8) Another strategy when kids are sick. Both parents split the work day. One goes in very early and the other works very late. (But not an option for shift workers or single parents)

() Don't underestimate the value of teaching kids (and their daycare and schools) andwashing and other important personal hygiene habits. Their school now has alcohol foam dispensers in the classroom too. Cuts down on spreading colds. My kids have fewer than a lot of others I know.

That's my contribution. As you can see it's really imperfect and it's a challenge. (I miss the golden days of a good quality, year-round daycare/pre-school.) I think this is the first topic on this blog that truly tries to address a pressing balance issue, and I really welcome the constructive ideas and suggestions of other contributors.

Posted by: SuziQ | February 16, 2007 12:12 PM

Here's some advice to other dual-working (full-time) parents based on my experience, what's worked, what hasn't, what I would have done differently (and still trying to figure out). I have no family in the area (the living grandmothers are fairly old anyway and neither retired early) and have relied on friends only very occasionally (occasional early dismissals or no school days) (For the record: I have one kid in primary school and one in middle school.):

1) Don't underestimate the value of having family (grandparents, siblings) nearby. We don't and we see the huge difference it makes for our friends who do. Especially those who are fortunate enough to have youngish parents that are either retired or work part-time and can help out. if you are not from here, you may want to reconsider the Washington DC area if you can pursue your career elsewhere closer to family. (We really can't -- our jobs are closely connected to policy work.)

2) Make sure your child's school has a quality afterschool program. Find out what they do, staff ratio, accountability, etc. If it is not, work to make it better or find a good outside vendor to run it (e.g. Wonders Childcare (used to be All Saints All Day) is one such vendor at several area public and private schools). Afterschool programs are great if your child is sociable, a self-starter with homework and needs minimal homework assistance (ie. no special learning issues or ADHD).

3) Downside of the afterschool programs. Kids cannot stay past 6 pm usually (sometimes 6:30pm). Even so, this can be pretty late to have dinner etc. They can't go to the regular orthodontist appointments or other check ups. Not all kids have the stamina for it every day and some kids need more one-on-one for homework. Some kids have interests in taking music lessons or dance or sports that are in other locations. They need to be taken there. (Upshot for me, it worked great for one kid for most of primary school; not for the other one -- so when the younger one was in second grade I began to hire a college student to pick both kids up afterschool, help her with homeowork, start dinner and take her to music lessons or appointments) (see next #)

4) College and grad students can be great part-time sitters. Grad students (though less available) are usually better because they are more likely to have cars, fewer classes and more predictable schedules. Downside is turnover. But we have had some great college students. It is worth living close to a college campus for this (because students who don't have a car can easily get to your home and drive your car). I wish I had known that before I bought a home -- I didn't. Is this more expensive than the after-school? Yes, but it's what my kids need. Most want $13-15 per hour plus gas (or use my car.

4) Older siblings are good for a gap in the afternoon but they can't drive until they are 17. Also, they may have activities afterschool, sports and other interests beyond caring for younger siblings every day. do they have to give up all those things because they were born first? Also, the end of their school day may not work with the younger children. (My older child's regular school day is longer than my younger child's)

5) A lot of the nannies that people hire to care for their babies and toddlers won't work as well for afterschool because of cost, inability to drive (some) and inability to help with homework. Some of my friends who have loving long-term nannies that drive but have limited English abilities will hire a student to help with homework if that's needed. Additional expense. There is a good supply of nannies and students in this area but the demand is also very high. (If you're still reading, has one spouse quit their job or thinking about sterilization surgery yet?)

6) If you haven't purchased a home yet, consider if at all possible (we really didn't -- to our regret) whether your home could accomodate the option of having a live in nanny or foreign au pair. Some of my friends have used foreign au pairs and they can offer great flexiblity and are less expensive than most regular live out nannies. Not everyone wants someone living under their roof and this arrangement has issues too but for couples whose work involves travel its a godsend. Also, college students and nannies can quit on short notice, the au pair commits for at least one year, and sometimes can extend for an additional 6-12 months.

7) For summers, see all of the above (at least there may not be regular homework!). The problem is most people I know including me don't get 6-8 weeks vacation. I still find it strange that most summer camps here don't have programs for most of August, as if everyone just leaves town for 3-4 weeks. (It's an annually struggle/nightmare as the most I can ever pull off is one week vacation leaving us to figure out the other 2-3 weeks)

8) Another strategy when kids are sick. Both parents split the work day. One goes in very early and the other works very late. (But not an option for shift workers or single parents)

() Don't underestimate the value of teaching kids (and their daycare and schools) andwashing and other important personal hygiene habits. Their school now has alcohol foam dispensers in the classroom too. Cuts down on spreading colds. My kids have fewer than a lot of others I know.

That's my contribution. As you can see it's really imperfect and it's a challenge. (I miss the golden days of a good quality, year-round daycare/pre-school.) I think this is the first topic on this blog in a realy long time that truly tries to address a pressing balance issue, and I really welcome the constructive ideas and suggestions of other contributors.

Posted by: SuziQ | February 16, 2007 12:13 PM

Sorry for double-post. Once again, my computer is behaving badly.

Posted by: catmommy | February 16, 2007 12:14 PM

In my experience, any kid in high school either can drive or has friends that can drive. It doesn't much matter where the parents are, because if teenagers want to get into trouble, they will find a way -- I always did!

I think the best you can hope for is some mid-grade rebellion while still in high school so they can get it out of their system. Some of my friends who were straight-laced in high school went nuts in college, but I'd already gotten it out of my system and could focus on getting an education, getting a job, etc.

Posted by: catmommy | February 16, 2007 12:09 PM

catmommy, that may be true, but we're not going to make it easy by providing the unsupervised house. Parents who make it easy for their kids to get in trouble, by not monitoring where they are, with whom and what goes on in the basement of their own home, often end up with wild children. We may end up with wild children anyway, but it won't be because our eyes were closed, we provided the unsupervised neighborhood love pit, or we weren't engaged.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:14 PM

Q: "At what age can a child be left home alone in Maryland?"
A: Family Law Article, § 5-801, provides:

(a) A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent and the dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child.

(b) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or both.

http://www.nccic.org/poptopics/homealone.html

If the kids are still breast feeding at 8, you've got bigger problems. :)

Posted by: Home alone in MD | February 16, 2007 12:15 PM

aaaahhh, it's the attack of the super long SuziQ post!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:15 PM

aaaahhh, it's the attack of the super long SuziQ post!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:16 PM

Re "10 & 11 year olds home alone":

My rather protective parents waited till I was 13 to give me a housekey (most of my friends had gotten theirs at 12), so I could get in the house after school when no one was home. Before that, one or another of them was there, or I went to a designated classmate's house, where a parent was present, or I went to the public library with a friend. My folks always left me an after-school snack (fresh fruit, storebought cookies/cake plus milk), but I was expected to start my homework in their absence. That way, they knew that if I'd finished it (or made a good start) I probably wasn't getting into much mischief. Of course I could be a bit, ahem, creative on this last point -- but the situation precluded anything really bad. And most 13-year-olds can be (ought to be) very responsible, given the opportunity. I viewed it as a chance to leverage more freedom by proving myself to my parents.

Posted by: catlady | February 16, 2007 12:16 PM

Here's some advice to other dual-working (full-time) parents based on my experience, what's worked, what hasn't, what I would have done differently (and still trying to figure out). I have no family in the area (the living grandmothers are fairly old anyway and neither retired early) and have relied on friends only very occasionally (occasional early dismissals or no school days) (For the record: I have one kid in primary school and one in middle school.):

1) Don't underestimate the value of having family (grandparents, siblings) nearby. We don't and we see the huge difference it makes for our friends who do. Especially those who are fortunate enough to have youngish parents that are either retired or work part-time and can help out. if you are not from here, you may want to reconsider the Washington DC area if you can pursue your career elsewhere closer to family. (We really can't -- our jobs are closely connected to policy work.)

2) Make sure your child's school has a quality afterschool program. Find out what they do, staff ratio, accountability, etc. If it is not, work to make it better or find a good outside vendor to run it (e.g. Wonders Childcare (used to be All Saints All Day) is one such vendor at several area public and private schools). Afterschool programs are great if your child is sociable, a self-starter with homework and needs minimal homework assistance (ie. no special learning issues or ADHD).

3) Downside of the afterschool programs. Kids cannot stay past 6 pm usually (sometimes 6:30pm). Even so, this can be pretty late to have dinner etc. They can't go to the regular orthodontist appointments or other check ups. Not all kids have the stamina for it every day and some kids need more one-on-one for homework. Some kids have interests in taking music lessons or dance or sports that are in other locations. They need to be taken there. (Upshot for me, it worked great for one kid for most of primary school; not for the other one -- so when the younger one was in second grade I began to hire a college student to pick both kids up afterschool, help her with homeowork, start dinner and take her to music lessons or appointments) (see next #)

4) College and grad students can be great part-time sitters. Grad students (though less available) are usually better because they are more likely to have cars, fewer classes and more predictable schedules. Downside is turnover. But we have had some great college students. It is worth living close to a college campus for this (because students who don't have a car can easily get to your home and drive your car). I wish I had known that before I bought a home -- I didn't. Is this more expensive than the after-school? Yes, but it's what my kids need. Most want $13-15 per hour plus gas (or use my car.

4) Older siblings are good for a gap in the afternoon but they can't drive until they are 17. Also, they may have activities afterschool, sports and other interests beyond caring for younger siblings every day. do they have to give up all those things because they were born first? Also, the end of their school day may not work with the younger children. (My older child's regular school day is longer than my younger child's)

5) A lot of the nannies that people hire to care for their babies and toddlers won't work as well for afterschool because of cost, inability to drive (some) and inability to help with homework. Some of my friends who have loving long-term nannies that drive but have limited English abilities will hire a student to help with homework if that's needed. Additional expense. There is a good supply of nannies and students in this area but the demand is also very high. (If you're still reading, has one spouse quit their job or thinking about sterilization surgery yet?)

6) If you haven't purchased a home yet, consider if at all possible (we really didn't -- to our regret) whether your home could accomodate the option of having a live in nanny or foreign au pair. Some of my friends have used foreign au pairs and they can offer great flexiblity and are less expensive than most regular live out nannies. Not everyone wants someone living under their roof and this arrangement has issues too but for couples whose work involves travel its a godsend. Also, college students and nannies can quit on short notice, the au pair commits for at least one year, and sometimes can extend for an additional 6-12 months.

7) For summers, see all of the above (at least there may not be regular homework!). The problem is most people I know including me don't get 6-8 weeks vacation. I still find it strange that most summer camps here don't have programs for most of August, as if everyone just leaves town for 3-4 weeks. (It's an annually struggle/nightmare as the most I can ever pull off is one week vacation leaving us to figure out the other 2-3 weeks)

8) Another strategy when kids are sick. Both parents split the work day. One goes in very early and the other works very late. (But not an option for shift workers or single parents)

() Don't underestimate the value of teaching kids (and their daycare and schools) andwashing and other important personal hygiene habits. Their school now has alcohol foam dispensers in the classroom too. Cuts down on spreading colds. My kids have fewer than a lot of others I know.

That's my contribution. As you can see it's really imperfect and it's a challenge. (I miss the golden days of a good quality, year-round daycare/pre-school.) I think this is the first topic on this blog in a realy long time that truly tries to address a pressing balance issue, and I really welcome the constructive ideas and suggestions of other contributors.

Posted by: SuziQ | February 16, 2007 12:18 PM

"Parents who make it easy for their kids to get in trouble, by not monitoring where they are, with whom and what goes on in the basement of their own home, often end up with wild children."

So do overbearing parents who try to keep close tabs on what their kids are doing. And anything that can happen in a basement can happen out in a car, park, or anyplace else, which could also expose kids to legal troubles or harming themselves or others.

A smart and willful teenage will do what he/she wants to regardless of what parents say or do. It wasn't that long ago that I was one, and I remember very clearly how we circumvented "engaged" and "active" parents. It's not hard to do.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:21 PM

Boy, do we struggle with this topic. I thought we were in like Flynn -- we moved back to the area in large part to be closer to family, and my mom loves picking up the kids once or twice a week. Plus my brother is living with them for extra backup, and I can work at home whenever I need to.

Then we had no. 2. And discovered that my mom isn't so big on babies/toddlers, and feels overwhelmed with more than one. My brother same thing (has an anxiety disorder). Plus my mother works two jobs and so isn't available most sick days or holidays -- and my brother can typically only manage a couple of hours at a time before he starts to feel overwhelmed. And I am SO conscious of not wanting to overburden them that I don't even want to ask for help most of the time -- wait for them to offer when they can. And then to top it all off, baby boy spent Nov-Jan with one illness after the next -- not a single week without missing at least one day. Right when my work was going nuts (had I think my second highest billable month ever in January, even considering vacation/holidays/sick days). And WAH doesn't work when you have to entertain a toddler (and the office has been gutted as part of a kitchen remodel).

So we just take it day by day and try to keep our heads above water. Luckily, my job is flexible, and my husband can take leave fairly easily, so we tend to take time or split days depending on who has what going on, and make up for it on nights/weekends -- we're exhausted, but at least we've been able to take care of both kids and clients. My mom has jumped in to help whenever possible. And somehow, we've muddled through -- got really, really close to the breaking point, but knock on wood, I think we've come out the other side.

But this experience has left me thinking a lot more seriously about keeping my daughter in her Montessori school for elementary school. As I've mentioned before, I've been thinking about that anyway, because she is just doing so well there. But the convenience factor is huge as well -- especially when there are two sets of holidays and snow days and sick days to worry about. They're open 7-6 year-round, and almost never close for holidays or snow days (Wed. was the first time in two years they actually closed for snow). This past month, if we'd had to deal with all the public school half-days and holidays and snow days, I don't know if we'd have made it through. So I'll probably bite the bullet and fork over the extra $$ to keep her there -- I just feel lucky that what seems best for her academically is also really convenient for us.

Posted by: Laura | February 16, 2007 12:21 PM

Boy, do we struggle with this topic. I thought we were in like Flynn -- we moved back to the area in large part to be closer to family, and my mom loves picking up the kids once or twice a week. Plus my brother is living with them for extra backup, and I can work at home whenever I need to.

Then we had no. 2. And discovered that my mom isn't so big on babies/toddlers, and feels overwhelmed with more than one. My brother same thing (has an anxiety disorder). Plus my mother works two jobs and so isn't available most sick days or holidays -- and my brother can typically only manage a couple of hours at a time before he starts to feel overwhelmed. And I am SO conscious of not wanting to overburden them that I don't even want to ask for help most of the time -- wait for them to offer when they can. And then to top it all off, baby boy spent Nov-Jan with one illness after the next -- not a single week without missing at least one day. Right when my work was going nuts (had I think my second highest billable month ever in January, even considering vacation/holidays/sick days). And WAH doesn't work when you have to entertain a toddler (and the office has been gutted as part of a kitchen remodel).

So we just take it day by day and try to keep our heads above water. Luckily, my job is flexible, and my husband can take leave fairly easily, so we tend to take time or split days depending on who has what going on, and make up for it on nights/weekends -- we're exhausted, but at least we've been able to take care of both kids and clients. My mom has jumped in to help whenever possible. And somehow, we've muddled through -- got really, really close to the breaking point, but knock on wood, I think we've come out the other side.

But this experience has left me thinking a lot more seriously about keeping my daughter in her Montessori school for elementary school. As I've mentioned before, I've been thinking about that anyway, because she is just doing so well there. But the convenience factor is huge as well -- especially when there are two sets of holidays and snow days and sick days to worry about. They're open 7-6 year-round, and almost never close for holidays or snow days (Wed. was the first time in two years they actually closed for snow). This past month, if we'd had to deal with all the public school half-days and holidays and snow days, I don't know if we'd have made it through. So I'll probably bite the bullet and fork over the extra $$ to keep her there -- I just feel lucky that what seems best for her academically is also really convenient for us.

Posted by: Laura | February 16, 2007 12:23 PM

Here's some advice to other dual-working (full-time) parents based on my experience, what's worked, what hasn't, what I would have done differently (and still trying to figure out). I have no family in the area (the living grandmothers are fairly old anyway and neither retired early) and have relied on friends only very occasionally (occasional early dismissals or no school days) (For the record: I have one kid in primary school and one in middle school.):

1) Don't underestimate the value of having family (grandparents, siblings) nearby. We don't and we see the huge difference it makes for our friends who do. Especially those who are fortunate enough to have youngish parents that are either retired or work part-time and can help out. if you are not from here, you may want to reconsider the Washington DC area if you can pursue your career elsewhere closer to family. (We really can't -- our jobs are closely connected to policy work.)

2) Make sure your child's school has a quality afterschool program. Find out what they do, staff ratio, accountability, etc. If it is not, work to make it better or find a good outside vendor to run it (e.g. Wonders Childcare (used to be All Saints All Day) is one such vendor at several area public and private schools). Afterschool programs are great if your child is sociable, a self-starter with homework and needs minimal homework assistance (ie. no special learning issues or ADHD).

3) Downside of the afterschool programs. Kids cannot stay past 6 pm usually (sometimes 6:30pm). Even so, this can be pretty late to have dinner etc. They can't go to the regular orthodontist appointments or other check ups. Not all kids have the stamina for it every day and some kids need more one-on-one for homework. Some kids have interests in taking music lessons or dance or sports that are in other locations. They need to be taken there. (Upshot for me, it worked great for one kid for most of primary school; not for the other one -- so when the younger one was in second grade I began to hire a college student to pick both kids up afterschool, help her with homeowork, start dinner and take her to music lessons or appointments) (see next #)

4) College and grad students can be great part-time sitters. Grad students (though less available) are usually better because they are more likely to have cars, fewer classes and more predictable schedules. Downside is turnover. But we have had some great college students. It is worth living close to a college campus for this (because students who don't have a car can easily get to your home and drive your car). I wish I had known that before I bought a home -- I didn't. Is this more expensive than the after-school? Yes, but it's what my kids need. Most want $13-15 per hour plus gas (or use my car.

4) Older siblings are good for a gap in the afternoon but they can't drive until they are 17. Also, they may have activities afterschool, sports and other interests beyond caring for younger siblings every day. Do they have to give up all those things just because they were born first? I don't think that's right. The younger child(ren) will have that opportunity when s/he's older why should the older kids give up on their interests? Also, the end of their school day may not correspond well with the younger children. (My older child's regular school day is longer than my younger child's)

5) A lot of the nannies that people hire to care for their babies and toddlers won't work as well for afterschool because of cost, inability to drive (some) and inability to help with homework. Some of my friends who have loving long-term nannies that drive but have limited English abilities will hire a student to help with homework if that's needed. It's an additional expense. There is a good supply of nannies and students in this area but the demand is also very high. (If you're still reading, has one spouse quit their job or thinking about sterilization surgery yet?)

6) If you haven't purchased a home yet, consider if at all possible (we really didn't -- to our regret) whether your home could accomodate the option of having a live in nanny or foreign au pair. Some of my friends have used foreign au pairs and they can offer great flexiblity and are less expensive than most regular live out nannies. Not everyone wants someone living under their roof and this arrangement has issues too but for couples whose work involves travel its a godsend. Also, college students and nannies can quit on short notice, the au pair commits for at least one year, and sometimes can extend for an additional 6-12 months.

7) For summers, see all of the above (at least there may not be regular homework!). The problem is most people I know including me don't get 6-8 weeks vacation. I still find it strange that most summer camps here don't have programs for most of August, as if everyone just leaves town for 3-4 weeks. (It's an annually struggle/nightmare as the most I can ever pull off is one week vacation leaving us to figure out the other 2-3 weeks)

8) Another strategy when kids are sick. Both parents split the work day. One goes in very early and the other works very late. (But not an option for shift workers or single parents)

(9) Don't underestimate the value of teaching kids (and their daycare and schools) andwashing and other important personal hygiene habits. Their school now has alcohol foam dispensers in the classroom too. Cuts down on spreading colds. My kids have fewer than a lot of others I know.

That's my (long-winded) contribution. As you can see it's really imperfect and it is a huge challenge. (I miss the golden days of a good quality, year-round daycare/pre-school.) I think this is the first topic on this blog in a really long time that truly tries to address a pressing balance issue, and I really welcome the constructive ideas and suggestions of other contributors.

Posted by: SuziQ | February 16, 2007 12:26 PM

Um...so which public and private schools is Leslie talking about that have "excellent" after-school programs?

I've now visited two programs in Montgomery County. To me, it seemed like a huge problem that the 12-year-olds were running rampant over the 6 year olds. Also, there wasn't much supervision at all- the "teachers" were either talking on their cell phones or chatting with other teachers and not interacting with the kids at all.

Posted by: Rock Creek Mama | February 16, 2007 12:26 PM

What school is this??? Open year round during elementary school, hrs 7-6, never closed for weather, and great academics? PLease tell me! PLease!!!

Posted by: to Laura | February 16, 2007 12:27 PM

Re: Homeschooling. I would encourage any of you who have outdated ideas of homeschooling (i.e. the children are sheltered from anyone outside their families, the 25 year olds are more likely to live at home, the parent doesn't know how to teach because he doesn't have a teaching degree, etc.) to shed the stereotypes and really look into what a homeschooling family is really like. And not just one, but several - because just like the varying employment situations on this board, there are many different homeschooling situations and philosophies. The homeschooled children you read about in the paper who have been locked inside for 10 years without contact with the outside world are certainly not the norm. It's my observation that most homeschoolers are very social and their children have a ton of friends and interests outside their families - as well as more time to pursue those interests and friendships since they're not in a classroom for 6 or 7 hours a day. The homeschooled kids and teens I know are all very independent and often start college courses at a young age in order to supplement their home education.

Re: After school teenagers. I have two of them, 12 & 15. I won't comment on the appropriateness of a 10+ year old child being home alone after school, because I've gotten myself into trouble with that discussion before. But I will say that I often have an extra teen or two in my van after school - giving them a ride home because it's raining and they have a mile to walk, bringing them to our home to play XBox with my son instead of playing at home by themselves, taking them to the library for teen events, etc. I do think it's important for even independent, capable older kids to feel like someone is there for them and/or that they have something to do to pass the time. Yes, even if you're at work at they're at home you're still "there for them". But I just think that 5 days a week is too much and that the best situation is for kids to have an after school activity at least a few days a week.

Posted by: momof4 | February 16, 2007 12:27 PM

What school is this??? Open year round during elementary school, hrs 7-6, never closed for weather, and great academics? PLease tell me! PLease!!!

Posted by: to Laura | February 16, 2007 12:27 PM

A FOURTH child? First of all, nobody needs more than two children.

Are you the (self appointed) Child Bearing Czar? If two is enough, why not one? If you truly believe that sustainability of this earth is totally dependant on family size, I hope that you practice what you preach and have NONE.

In fact, maybe you should take some active or passive action to speed your demise so YOU do not contribution to the further spoiling of this earth.

I don't recall that there is a national law limiting family size as there is in China.

Posted by: I want more children | February 16, 2007 12:28 PM

Re: Long School Hours

I went to a private high school. Classes were dismissed at 3 p.m., but we were required to participate in athletics, which were from 3-5 p.m. every day. So basically, almost all of the students were at school from 8-5.

That still didn't keep us from getting into trouble, but it did keep us from getting fat from all the beer-drinking!

Posted by: catmommy | February 16, 2007 12:32 PM

"Plus, isn't anyone worried about sustainability? Humans aren't exactly in danger of becoming extinct, not in this country anyway, and unless you plan on donating yours to a country losing people to starvation and genocide, it simply doesn't make sense."

Sounds like a plan. I'll start by sending you.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:35 PM

to 12:09

I believe it is like that in Maryland.

Posted by: 2xmami | February 16, 2007 12:35 PM

"In my state kids can stay home after starting at 8."

What state is that? Have you checked the law lately? If true, this is pretty shocking. Some kids are still breast feeding at age 8.

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 12:09 PM

sweet Jesus, why is it shocking that parents might be best-positioned to make decisions about their child's safety based on -- dum dum dum dummmm - their child, their neighborhood, and other relevant factors. I find it disheartening that you would rather trust the government than yourself to make suitable choices for your own children.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:35 PM

I forgot to post this part from the same website...

Most States do not have regulations or laws about when a child is considered old enough to care for him/herself or to care for other children. Currently Illinois and Maryland have laws addressing this topic. States may have guidelines or recommendations.

Posted by: Home alone in MD | February 16, 2007 12:37 PM

"I don't recall that there is a national law limiting family size as there is in China."

I wouldn't oppose one, especially when the little rugrats are 1) screaming in restaurants, 2) wearing skate-shoes in supermarkets, 3)throwing footballs that land in my yard, and 4) trying to talk to me in public while I'm busy (whatever happened to don't talk to strangers?)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:37 PM

Gosh, would you rather give your kid a key and let them in the house where they can look at naughty pictures on the internet, or would you rather them sit outside the house or hang out in the streets?

Posted by: Chris | February 16, 2007 12:38 PM

"the parent doesn't know how to teach because he doesn't have a teaching degree"

Right. I don't know how to teach kids. I doubt that buying stuff from these home school providers (who the heck are they anyway?) is going to make me a teacher. There must be more to it than going over a commercialized lesson plan.

How do I keep from telegraphing my academic subject likes and dislikes to the kids? Won't they pick up my strengths and weaknesses?

It's hard enough pretending to like some of my in-laws. I'm not good at faking interest (except for sex).

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:38 PM

I just think anyone who has more than two has some unresolved psychological issues.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:40 PM

well sweet jesus, most of us know that murder is wrong but there's still a law against it.

Most of us know that child abuse is wrong, but there's still a law on that too.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:41 PM

Here's my advice to other dual-working (full-time) parents based on my experience, what's worked, what hasn't, what I would have done differently (and still trying to figure out). I have no family in the area (the living grandmothers are fairly old anyway and neither retired early) and have relied on friends only very occasionally (occasional early dismissals or no school days) (For the record: I have one kid in primary school and one in middle school.):
1) Don't underestimate the value of having family (grandparents, siblings) nearby. We don't and we see the huge difference it makes for our friends who do. Especially those who are fortunate enough to have youngish parents that are either retired or work part-time and can help out. if you are not from here, you may want to reconsider the Washington DC area if you can pursue your career elsewhere closer to family. (We really can't -- our jobs are closely connected to policy work.)
2) Make sure your child's school has a quality afterschool program. Find out what they do, staff ratio, accountability, etc. If it is not, work to make it better or find a good outside vendor to run it (e.g. Wonders Childcare (used to be All Saints All Day) is one such vendor at several area public and private schools). Afterschool programs are great if your child is sociable, a self-starter with homework and needs minimal homework assistance (ie. no special learning issues or ADHD).
3) Downside of the afterschool programs. Kids cannot stay past 6 pm usually (sometimes 6:30pm). Even so, this can be pretty late to have dinner etc. Not all kids have the stamina for it every day and some kids need more one-on-one for homework. Some kids have interests in taking music lessons or dance or sports that are in other locations. They may have regular orthodontist appointments or other check ups. They need to be taken there. (Upshot for me, it worked great for one kid for most of primary school; not for the other one -- so when the younger one was in second grade I began to hire a college student to pick both kids up afterschool, help her with homework, start dinner and take her to music lessons or appointments) (see next #)
4) College and grad students can be great part-time sitters. Grad students (though less available) are usually better because they are more likely to have cars, fewer classes and more predictable schedules. Downside is turnover. It is worth living close to a college campus for this (because students who don't have a car can easily get to your home and drive your car). I wish I had known that before I bought a home. This is more expensive than the after-school but maybe not if you have multiple kids. Most want $13-15 per hour plus gas (or use your car).
5) Older siblings are good for a gap in the afternoon but they can't drive until they are 17. They may and should have activities afterschool - sports, arts, music and other interests. Do they have to give up all those things just because they were born first? I don't think that's right. The younger child(ren) will have that opportunity when s/he's older; why should the older kids give up on their interests? Also, the end of their school day may not correspond well with the younger children's. (My older child's regular school day is longer than my younger child's)
6) A lot of the nannies that people hire to care for their babies and toddlers won't work as well for afterschool because of cost, inability to drive (some) and inability to help with homework. Some of my friends who have loving long-term nannies that drive but have limited English abilities will hire a student to help with homework. It's an additional expense.
7) If you haven't purchased a home yet, consider if at all possible (we really didn't -- to our regret) whether your home could accommodate a live-in nanny or foreign au pair. Some of my friends have used foreign au pairs and they can offer great flexibility and are less expensive than most regular live out nannies. For couples whose work involves travel it's a godsend. Also, the au pair commits for at least one year (nannies and students can just quit), and sometimes can extend for an additional 6-12 months.
8) For summers, same as above. The problem is most people I know including me don't get 6-8 weeks vacation. I still find it strange that most summer camps here don't go into August, as if everyone just leaves town for 3-4 weeks. (It's an annually struggle/nightmare as the most I can ever pull off is one week vacation leaving us to figure out the other 2-3 weeks)
9) A strategy when kids are sick or snow days. Both parents split the work day. One goes in very early and the other works very late. (But not an option for shift workers or single parents)
10) Teach kids (and their daycare and schools) to always wash hands after using the toilet and before eating and to sneeze into a tissue or the crook of their elbow (not hands). Their school now has alcohol foam dispensers in the classroom too. Cuts down on spreading colds. My kids have fewer than a lot of others I know.
That's my (long-winded) contribution. As you can see it's really imperfect and it is a huge challenge. (I miss the golden days of a good quality, year-round daycare/pre-school.) I think this is the first topic on this blog in a really long time that truly tries to address a pressing balance issue, and I really welcome the constructive ideas and suggestions of other contributors!

Posted by: SuziQ | February 16, 2007 12:42 PM

Looks like this has become the SuziQ blog!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:44 PM

Laura - always glad to see another Montessori parent. We are keeping my ds in elementary and totally psyched about it. Ours too is open 7:30 to 6:00 and almost never closes. For us it is less convenient, but we feel like it is the best place for him and since I'm home we I'm capable of driving him.

I think states should have regulations about when kids can stay home. As we see time and time again, not all parents can make good choices on their childrens behalf.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 16, 2007 12:44 PM

Anyone notice that some of these homeschoolers are starting to sound like cult leaders?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:44 PM

I just think anyone who has more than two has some unresolved psychological issues.

Yea, we don't like idiots like you telling us what to do.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:45 PM

I just think anyone who has more than two has some unresolved psychological issues.

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 12:40 PM

What makes two the sanity line? Do you have any rational basis for this viewpoint other than validating your own life choices? I am glad my neighborhood and workplace are free of judgmental nutjobs like you.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:46 PM

To "to Laura":

It's a Montessori school up in Ellicott City. Caveat: I'm not an expert on what makes a great academic program. For my daughter, it's a really good fit -- she is very independent and self-driven, and the Montessori method has really allowed her to push ahead at her own pace. And I'm happy as a parent, because I see her reading and writing and doing addition and subtraction, and most importantly feeling smart and being really, really proud of herself (last week, I heard her say "I'm really good at math," and my heart just flip-flopped).

But she's also just in kindergarten now; we'll just have to wait and see if it is still great as she progresses into "real" school.

Oh, one more caveat: they are starting to follow a more traditional holiday schedule this year -- as a matter of fact, they're closed Monday. Sigh.

Posted by: Laura | February 16, 2007 12:47 PM

Some kids are still breast feeding at age 8.

Fred, what would Fredia say about THIS???

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:47 PM

I just think anyone who has more than two has some unresolved psychological issues.

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 12:40 PM

What makes two the sanity line? Do you have any rational basis for this viewpoint other than validating your own life choices? I am glad my neighborhood and workplace are free of judgmental nutjobs like you.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:53 PM

Fredia is at work and very busy with 6 premie cases.

My personal opinion, 8 yr old BF Gross!

I really think that this poster was being facetious!

Posted by: Fred | February 16, 2007 12:54 PM

"Anyone notice that some of these homeschoolers are starting to sound like cult leaders?"

I think they sound adamant because they are so often attacked by people who don't know anything about the subject.

Momof4, I think it's awesome that you are there for other kids in your kids' school. We were home alone in the afternoons starting I think around 12 or so too, but we were also in a very close community where we knew there were lots of adults and other families that we could turn to, which was great. There were a couple women in particular who were sort of den mothers for all of us. I've often thought that I would like to be able to have our house be one of those houses when my son gets older, I hope that we are able to swing that financially/logistically because I think that's such an important community role.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 12:55 PM

Anyone notice that some of these homeschoolers are starting to sound like cult leaders?

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 12:44 PM

another enlightening contribution from the anonymous crowd. chicken?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 12:57 PM

In our case, you just change your entire life when Plan B for childcare fails again and again. Our second child has a rare immune system disorder and autism so not only is he sick all the time, but requires a caregiver who can really devote a lot of time and attention to his care. Things came to a head all at once when my father's serious illness coincided with my son's daycare finally admitting that they couldn't properly care for him anymore which was about when my husband lost yet another tech job. So my husband started looking for a new job that would require no childcare--he now works third shift, four days a week (Wednesday - Saturday) so he sleeps when the kids are at school and wakes up when they get home. It's not ideal--we hardly see each other anymore--but like many things in life we see this as just one chapter in a much longer narrative. On sick days and snow days, when they happen on days that he works, he drinks a lot of Mountain Dew or I take time off so he can sleep.

Posted by: Sarah | February 16, 2007 1:00 PM

"Right. I don't know how to teach kids."

Do you have children? If so, did you teach them how to eat with a fork? Talk? Brush their teeth? Dress themselves? Color inside the lines? Ride a bike?

Are you really incapable of showing a child how to add & subtract? Of presenting the life cycle of a butterfly? Of reading to them about Columbus and having a discussion about what you read?

I'm not a teacher nor am I a homeschooler, but I taught my now-6 year old to read starting when she was 3 (she didn't go to preschool) and she's at the top of her first grade class. I'm teaching my 4 year old son to read now. How on earth have I done this with nothing but an accounting degree and an uncompleted MBA?


Posted by: momof4 | February 16, 2007 1:00 PM

i went back to work shortly after my son was born & i plan on either quitting or working part time once he gets to middle school age precisely so i can be home when school lets out. yes, if a kid wants to find trouble he or she can usually find it but why tempt them by providing an empty house? i can do this because my husband & i do not spend, spend, spend.

regarding older people watching your children. i think it's a great idea. my mom watched my niece a lot. however, when mom got older my brother stopped leaving mom alone with his daughter especially after daughter #2 was born. for both their sakes. mom could no longer move quickly nor was she strong enough to pick up & carry an infant plus keep track of a toddler if there had an emergency. yes, there can be problems with somebody younger & in so called perfect health. fortunately, my mother agreed with my brother's assessment and we got around that by having me babysit & my mother got to sit along with me.
however, older people in good health can be very good babysitters.

Posted by: quark | February 16, 2007 1:10 PM

Two parents, two children, two jobs, get it? Total balance

Here is the prescription for HAPPYNESS!

Why not 2-1-2 or 3-2? Both make great basketball strategies.

Posted by: the original anon | February 16, 2007 1:10 PM

"And may be scary and lonely for the kids, at times. Even if they don't tell you so."

And some kids love it. My mom went back to work when I was 11 and I was at home by myself for about half an hour before my sister came home, and then we had the run of the house for about an hour and a half before Mom and Dad got home. The 30 minutes to myself was the best part of my day. God, how I loved it.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 16, 2007 1:11 PM

When our kids were younger, on the recommendation of friends we checked out the Au Pair programs and used that as primary child care for a total of three years. (This was when my wife was still employed full-time outside of the house.)

Upsides:
- it was a heck of a lot cheaper than day care - about one-third of what we had been paying at the Agency-supported day care center (we were both feds), if memory serves
- there was a lot more flexibility of hours. There's a limit to what you can ask this person to do, of course, but you can generally work out arrangements to cover emergencies
- the kids get used to one au pair/sitter, not a full team. They develop relationships, too.
- exposure to a different culture. Our three au pairs were, in order, English, German and Irish. The kids learned a lot - it was fun to hear our three-year-old sun tell us the German names for all the characters in "Thomas the Tank Engine".
- ability to establish a long-running relationship. We still keep in touch with two of our three au pairs, more than 10 years later. We went to Galway in 2004 for the Irish au pair's wedding; what a blast. The kids loved Ireland. We went to Bremen in 2005 for the German au pair's wedding; unfortunately it was the middle of the school year so Grandma came and stayed with the kids; we couldn't take them.

Downsides:
- you have another person living in your house. If you're the type of person who isn't comfortable with that, it will cause issues
- make sure your au pair is hear for the right reasons. Soem do come just to party or meet boyfriends/future husbands. The good agencies do a good job screening those out, but some still do get through.
- make sure they follow your rules - and the laws too. Two of the girls we knew - friends of our au pair - were busted for possession of marijuana. Another tried to sneak her boyfriend into the house.

All in all, I'd strongly recommend it.

(Also, our kids got to learn that all those stereotypes of Irish parties/weddings are wrong - the real parties are much better. The wedding started at noon with Mass that lasted until about 1; then an informal reception until 3; we moved to the reception hall for a dance party and the receiving line until 6; sit-down dinner until 9; the band played until 1 am; the dj entertained until 7 am; brunch until noon for those who were still standing, or who had recuperated and were standing again. The kids thought that this was the greatest thing they'd ever seen in their lives.)

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 1:12 PM

Wife's Plan B:

1) Panic
2) Try to get me to Panic
3) Become edgy and hard to deal with
4) Poke holes in my suggestions
5) Begrudgingly act on one of my suggestions
6) Bitterly work with me to execute one of my suggestions
7) Complain

I hate plan B. The last few days have been awful.

Posted by: Random Guy | February 16, 2007 08:34 AM

Hey - can we detour back to Random Guy's comment and the comment Leslie made a couple of weeks ago that backup childcare is always her responsibility . . .

how many couple share responsibility for developing Plan B and, in how many does the burden of developing and implementing Plan B fall entirely on one spouse? My husband would jump off the roof before he'd maintain some sort of lengthy list of outdated babysitter numbers, but when we have a coverage crisis, be it snow day or sick day, we figure it out together. It goes substantially better than the process Random Guy describes, but there's often not a good answer, e.g., one of us is going to be the bad employee that day.

what does everyone else think?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 1:13 PM

I live in Eastern Montgomery County, and at each school my children have attended there has been a day care center. At one school the YMCA also ran a program.

They covered before-and-after school care. It was a stop on the bus route and they went over there after school. They had a snack, did homework, watched movies on Fridays. It was near a park/playground and they went there or played ball in the parking lot.

They covered some in-service days, and snow events. Until my kids got into 6th grade it was fine. After that they wanted to go home after school, and they were old enough by then.

I had boys and they were in need of physical activity, so this was perfect for them because it was pretty active. They had to be picked up by 6:30 so we arranged our schedules so that happened. Overall it was a breeze.

Posted by: RoseG | February 16, 2007 1:15 PM

As far as giving kids too much responsibility for themselves or others. . .

From Fairfax Co. Public Library:
http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/unattended.htm

The Library is a busy public place that serves a wide variety of visitors. It's not like a school, and Library staff do not take responsibility for children who are using the Library. . .The Library is as public as a busy shopping mall. If your children are old enough to be dropped off at the shopping mall, they may be old enough to be dropped off at the Library. Otherwise, please remain with your children at the Library.

From Fairfax Co. Dept. of Family Services:
http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/factsheets/childsupervisionguidelines.htm

8 to 10 years: Should not be left alone for more than 1½ hours and only during daylight and early evening hours.


11 to 12 years: May be left alone for up to 3 hours but not late at night or in circumstances requiring inappropriate responsibility.

Posted by: Home or Library Alone? | February 16, 2007 1:16 PM

As far as giving kids too much responsibility for themselves or others. . .

From Fairfax Co. Public Library:
http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/unattended.htm

The Library is a busy public place that serves a wide variety of visitors. It's not like a school, and Library staff do not take responsibility for children who are using the Library. . .The Library is as public as a busy shopping mall. If your children are old enough to be dropped off at the shopping mall, they may be old enough to be dropped off at the Library. Otherwise, please remain with your children at the Library.

From Fairfax Co. Dept. of Family Services:
http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/factsheets/childsupervisionguidelines.htm

8 to 10 years: Should not be left alone for more than 1½ hours and only during daylight and early evening hours.


11 to 12 years: May be left alone for up to 3 hours but not late at night or in circumstances requiring inappropriate responsibility.

Posted by: Home or Library Alone? | February 16, 2007 1:16 PM

As far as giving kids too much responsibility for themselves or others. . .

From Fairfax Co. Public Library:
http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/unattended.htm

The Library is a busy public place that serves a wide variety of visitors. It's not like a school, and Library staff do not take responsibility for children who are using the Library. . .The Library is as public as a busy shopping mall. If your children are old enough to be dropped off at the shopping mall, they may be old enough to be dropped off at the Library. Otherwise, please remain with your children at the Library.

From Fairfax Co. Dept. of Family Services:
http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/factsheets/childsupervisionguidelines.htm

8 to 10 years: Should not be left alone for more than 1½ hours and only during daylight and early evening hours.


11 to 12 years: May be left alone for up to 3 hours but not late at night or in circumstances requiring inappropriate responsibility.

Posted by: Home or Library Alone? | February 16, 2007 1:17 PM

"Are you really incapable of showing a child how to add & subtract? Of presenting the life cycle of a butterfly? Of reading to them about Columbus and having a discussion about what you read?"

I could go through the motions, but my heart wouldn't be in it and the kids pick that up very quickly.


"How on earth have I done this with nothing but an accounting degree and an uncompleted MBA? "

I give up. You are a perfect mother with perfect children (DNA had nothing to do with it). Dunno where you live, but in some schools 70% of the kids entering kindergarten have been taught to read and write, do simple math, etc. when they were 3 years old. It's just not a big deal in some areas.
(Special needs issues aside, of course.)

Congrats to your daughter on being at the top of her first grade!! What an achievement! Hold the presses! When does she enter Harvard? Looking forward to her Nobel Prize ceremony.

Time to check on my regular American smucks.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 1:19 PM

"Hey - can we detour back to Random Guy's comment and the comment Leslie made a couple of weeks ago that backup childcare is always her responsibility . . .

how many couple share responsibility for developing Plan B and, in how many does the burden of developing and implementing Plan B fall entirely on one spouse?"

We haven't had a lot of day care emergencies yet, but Random Guy's comment made me chuckle because my husband, fabulous as he is, is not the best in that type of situation. It just seems to take him a long time to move from the "oh crap" stage to the "what are our options" stage. So, usually when something unexpected comes up in any arena I'm the one who handles it. Fortunately, he does not seem bitter about my fixing things so that's never a problem - to the contrary, by the time he finally moves out of "oh crap" and sees that I've come up with some solutions, he's grateful and productive. But sometimes I do wonder why someone who makes his living solving complicated electrical and mechanical problems has this problem.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 1:22 PM

We are neighbors of a couple who just celebrated their 60th anniversary. Once a week they babysit their great-grandaughter and like to borrow our 4 year old to help out. Works well for everybody. Also, I like to visit and listen to WWII stories from the grandfather.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 16, 2007 1:28 PM

"The Library is a busy public place that serves a wide variety of visitors. It's not like a school, and Library staff do not take responsibility for children who are using the Library. . "

Did anyone else see the story in NYT about the library in NJ that decided to close after school lets out because so many parents told their kids to go there?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 1:30 PM

I think some parents make better teachers to their children then others. And no offense some kids, like my own, really need professional services from quality educators. Even if DD did not have a speech and social delay, I really don't think I would be a good teacher to her even in my field of expertise (mathematics). I am just not a teacher. She does have a very innate sense of mathematics and learns information very quickly. But I really think that she needs to be in a traditional school enviroment. That being said, that is the case with my kid. As far as moxiemom's comment on older kids and care. I plan to switch working so I get off at 3:30 and arrive home by 4:15 as soon as DD starts preschool full time in September. Reason being that the time every day with her is more important Fridays off. I wish I could find a part time job when they reach middle school in which I would get off at 2:30. I still dream that will happen. As far as why middle school. Well the answer is simple, there are less available day care options for that age group. As far as how young to leave a kid by themselves. For 1-2 hours an afternoon, I would say for the average kid 6 th grade. As far as summers off, I would say high school. But it is really dependent on your own kid. Some kids are probably ready at 8 and some not till 15. You have to watch your own kid carefully. If I didn't feel DD was responsible by middle school, I would look to hire a teenager or college student til 4:15. In my district that would only be 1 -1 1/2 hours each day. I personally would not leave DD before that. But that is me and my kid. It also depends if there are other siblings. I don't think an 8 year old should come by themselves and take care of 6 year old.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 16, 2007 1:32 PM

"...solving complicated electrical and mechanical problems has this problem."

Because mech and elec problems have a logical and dectectable source and solution. Engrs may not be able to find them for centuries but they are found.

Posted by: Fred | February 16, 2007 1:33 PM

I second Army Brat's comments about the au pair program. We currently have a German au pair and the flexibility it offers is a godsend. Just make sure you go through a reputable agency to get your au pair. The State Department offers a list if you're interested. The organization we've used (as have several friends) is Cultural Care, and we've been quite happy.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 16, 2007 1:34 PM

Just curious - and maybe this would be a subject for a blog - but doesn't it seem that so many children are now diagnosed with autism?? Is it because the diagnostic methods are better, or is the disease more prevalent? Not being snarky, I really am curious.

Posted by: me | February 16, 2007 1:35 PM

Just curious - and maybe this would be a subject for a blog - but doesn't it seem that so many children are now diagnosed with autism?? Is it because the diagnostic methods are better, or is the disease more prevalent? Not being snarky, I really am curious.

Posted by: me | February 16, 2007 1:36 PM

Just curious - and maybe this would be a subject for a blog - but doesn't it seem that so many children are now diagnosed with autism?? Is it because the diagnostic methods are better, or is the disease more prevalent? Not being snarky, I really am curious.

Posted by: me | February 16, 2007 1:37 PM

We are neighbors of a couple who just celebrated their 60th anniversary. Once a week they babysit their great-grandaughter and like to borrow our 4 year old to help out. Works well for everybody. Also, I like to visit and listen to WWII stories from the grandfather.

Fof4, that's lovely. Another scenario is that in a few years, your neighbor couple might to pay your now-4-year-old to, say, shovel the snow, do a little weeding or leaf-raking, run some nearby errands, or any of a number of other chores which have become physically too difficult for them -- a win-win situation, I think.

Posted by: catlady | February 16, 2007 1:37 PM

Army Brat

Other downsides of the au pair:

Runs off with the husband after she helps trigger his mid-life crisis.

Explaining to the kids that the former au pair is now their step-mom and gets to sleep in Daddy's bed.

It's usually not a good idea to bring the fox into the henhouse.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 1:39 PM

I walked myself to school at age 5. I came home to an empty house at age 5. My father was in the army stationed in Korea, my mother was returning to college.

If I want to leave my 10 year old at home for 30 minutes while I run to the grocery store I do and she is fine with it! 10 is the min. age for children to be home alone in Fairfax.

Posted by: Fairfax | February 16, 2007 1:40 PM

After I graduated from graduate school with a Masters degree in science in the dc area, I took a job paying 19,000 a year. My classmates thought I was crazy. Some of them applied and got jobs in Utah and Indiana. They tought I was a disgrace to the profession for taking 19,000 as a scientist. But I new my reasons. Although I was still childfree, my fiance (now husband) and I knew we wanted children. His parents and relatives live in the dc area. My fox lived in N.Y. We knew if we had kids care would be important. To make the story short, I took a low paying job so that I could be near relatives and not be exiled in far away state. Ten years later I am still reaping the benefits. My 2 kids (10 and 6 years old) have always been cared for by relatives ( Grandma, grandpa, geat aunts) and snow days, sick days, summer vacations do not panick me. It was a very conscious decision. Luckily, I am still at the same job earning 4 times what I made ten years ago.

Posted by: Thinker | February 16, 2007 1:41 PM

how many couple share responsibility for developing Plan B and, in how many does the burden of developing and implementing Plan B fall entirely on one spouse?"

_________________________________

In general, I'm the one responsible for all Plan B's, from day care when the kids were younger to whatever else. It goes with the engineering mindset - I'm always worried about what I've missed; what could go wrong; what assumption I've made incorrectly, etc. Face it, the system's going to fail; we'd better be ready when it does.

My wife is much more relaxed; she's one of those people who are convinced that if you really believe something's going to happen, it will. That's probably something that goes with her degree in English literature and background as an analyst.

(Not to say that either of us is right or wrong - we work well as a team. Left to my own, I'd spend way too much time and energy worrying about plan X, plan Y and plan Z (tm Plankton of Sponge Bob.))

Other than the au pair, here were the arrangements we used:

- when the oldest was born, we used a neighbor who had an in-home, licensed day care facility. We had to pick her up by 6 pm; the late fee was one dollar per minute after that; but we could almost always arrange for one of us to be home by 6.

- then it was the Agency-supported day care center. Good, but expensive, and again, closed at 6:30. There were times when I just had to tell my boss, "I'm leaving to pick up the kids; write it up on my next performance appraisal if you want." (Then I had to do well enough that it just didn't come up at evaluation time.)

- the au pairs got us through 3 years

- and finally, it was the Howard County Rec & Parks Department's before and after care programs at school. We really loved them; they worked great.

Then the wife decided that she really, really hated her Government job after being screwed over by her boss one time too many, so she quit and became a SAHM for several years. By the time she went back the kids were older, and the problem was a different one.

Other things we've done:

- the YMCA of Central Maryland has day-long "drop in" programs on school holidays. It's about 10 or 15 dollars for the day; the kids spend the day at the Y, including getting to swim in the indoor pool.
- swap with friends - this playdate's at our house; the next one's at yours
- call on relatives. One set of grandparents live in Frederick County; when necessary we've sent the kids to their house.

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 1:43 PM

After I graduated from graduate school with a Masters degree in science in the dc area, I took a job paying 19,000 a year. My classmates thought I was crazy. Some of them applied and got jobs in Utah and Indiana. They tought I was a disgrace to the profession for taking 19,000 as a scientist. But I new my reasons. Although I was still childfree, my fiance (now husband) and I knew we wanted children. His parents and relatives live in the dc area. My fox lived in N.Y. We knew if we had kids care would be important. To make the story short, I took a low paying job so that I could be near relatives and not be exiled in far away state. Ten years later I am still reaping the benefits. My 2 kids (10 and 6 years old) have always been cared for by relatives ( Grandma, grandpa, geat aunts) and snow days, sick days, summer vacations do not panick me. It was a very conscious decision. Luckily, I am still at the same job earning 4 times what I made ten years ago.

Posted by: Thinker | February 16, 2007 1:43 PM

I don't think this would be as much of an issue if husbands were more involved in choosing a family friendly career. From my understanding Leslie's husband has a pretty demanding career that doesn't often jive with family needs.

99% of the women I know have husbands with demanding careers. I know, there are obviously some husbands who DO purposely put off advancement/travel/promotions, but from my experience this doesn't happen often.

I feel badly for my husband sometimes when he's with other husbands. They look at him like an alien for choosing a lower paying job and fewer hours so he can raise his daughter!

My poor hubby- it's usually him, the kids, and all of the moms at kid functions!

I'm truly lucky that I have a husband that doesn't bat an eye when he needs to call in sick.

The saddest thing I've heard from a friend's husband: "You can't call me with these things- I can't be your go-to person for this" In response to picking up their preschooler due to the baby's illness .

If your husband can't be your "go-to" person, then why did you marry? Simply to pay for things?

Posted by: to the Plan B question | February 16, 2007 1:43 PM

Army Brat

Other downsides of the au pair:

Runs off with the husband after she helps trigger his mid-life crisis.

Explaining to the kids that the former au pair is now their step-mom and gets to sleep in Daddy's bed.

It's usually not a good idea to bring the fox into the henhouse.

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 01:39 PM

nice how this is the au pair's fault and not the husband's - the guy who couldn't keep it in his pants, and whose primary concern was the well-being of his kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 1:44 PM

I don't think this would be as much of an issue if husbands were more involved in choosing a family friendly career. From my understanding Leslie's husband has a pretty demanding career that doesn't often jive with family needs.

99% of the women I know have husbands with demanding careers. I know, there are obviously some husbands who DO purposely put off advancement/travel/promotions, but from my experience this doesn't happen often.

I feel badly for my husband sometimes when he's with other husbands. They look at him like an alien for choosing a lower paying job and fewer hours so he can raise his daughter!

My poor hubby- it's usually him, the kids, and all of the moms at kid functions!

I'm truly lucky that I have a husband that doesn't bat an eye when he needs to call in sick.

The saddest thing I've heard from a friend's husband: "You can't call me with these things- I can't be your go-to person for this" In response to picking up their preschooler due to the baby's illness .

If your husband can't be your "go-to" person, then why did you marry? Simply to pay for things?

Posted by: to the Plan B question | February 16, 2007 1:44 PM

"Is it because the diagnostic methods are better, or is the disease more prevalent?"

I think I read in the NYT (although it might have been elsewhere) that it's mostly the diagnostic criteria. A few years ago, they changed and thousands of children who hadn't been diagnosable as autistic under the old criteria were diagnosable under the new criteria.

"I don't think this would be as much of an issue if husbands were more involved in choosing a family friendly career."

I agree. I wasn't thinking much about Husband's career when I married him, but now I am very very grateful that he's a teacher. Most days that our future kids will have off, he'll have off, as well.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 16, 2007 1:50 PM

Runs off with the husband after she helps trigger his mid-life crisis.

Explaining to the kids that the former au pair is now their step-mom and gets to sleep in Daddy's bed.

It's usually not a good idea to bring the fox into the henhouse.

_____________________________

Wow - we always heard stories like that but figured they were apocryphal. Given other stories of father/nanny relationships (Robin Williams, anyone?) I guess it's possible, but...wow!

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 1:51 PM

Army Brat -- a quick question: how well did your children handle the changing of au pairs? I'm a little anxious about that!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 16, 2007 1:53 PM

Isn't there a link between older dads (older sperm) and Autism? Somewhere I read that...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 1:53 PM

99% of the women I know have husbands with demanding careers. I know, there are obviously some husbands who DO purposely put off advancement/travel/promotions, but from my experience this doesn't happen often.
. . .
The saddest thing I've heard from a friend's husband: "You can't call me with these things- I can't be your go-to person for this" In response to picking up their preschooler due to the baby's illness .

If your husband can't be your "go-to" person, then why did you marry? Simply to pay for things?

Posted by: to the Plan B question | February 16, 2007 01:43 PM

I'm confused about what you mean by your last question. What do you mean?

99% of the women you know are married to guys who prioritize career over family -- all except for your husband? wow. Maybe it's a geographical thing, and this is why I raised the question, I work with only two women who act as Leslie does (childcare is their problem, and theirs alone), but our neighbors, couples I know at church and at work, share all childcare emergencies and jointly agree on the solution. Sometimes the solution involves rock, paper, scissors, but they certainly are each others' go-to people.

so is it the wife's fault of her husband gets real comfortable with wife single-handledly developing Plan B? or is it just a reflection of the value of their respective jobs in the hierarchy of their finances? or what was your point?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 1:54 PM

I have a sister who is seven years younger and during my childhood I took care of her several times a week for hours at at time. It was FANTASTIC. Gave me a chance to try my hand at being a mini-mom, and she was an incredibly fun kid to be around. We are still very, very close. My parents did not pay me anything.

My children are pretty spoiled. Our almost 10 year old just started doing his own laundry. I think he will benefit from the responsibility of babysitting for his siblings.

Homeschooling my children tops the list of my biggest non-fatal nightmares. I cannot believe other people have the patience to do it. More power to them! But it's NOT FOR ME!

Posted by: Leslie | February 16, 2007 2:04 PM

Fred, I hear what you're saying about the engineering problems, but it does just tickle me that his general problem-solving skills don't seem to translate to other types of dilemnas. But after reading Army Brat's post I wonder if it probably also has something to do with the fact that there are so many more variables that he can't control in these types of dilemnas. Anyway, it does just kind of make me chuckle a bit.

Anon who wrote: "I give up. You are a perfect mother with perfect children"

I don't think Momof4 was trying to imply that she was perfect or better, but just pointing out that there are parents who are very capable of teaching their children even without teaching degrees, and as someone else said, teaching can be a very natural extension of parenting.

I don't think I would be a good teacher for my son while he is young because of my personality, but I certainly know other parents who I think would be well-suited and capable if they choose to go that route.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 2:06 PM

Several years ago, the Washington Post ran a series of articles on au pairs. The upsides were having the flexibility of having someone living in your home and available for emergencies, and also of having one reliable person that could bond with the family. The downsides were of course that a stranger is living in your home, and that often, au pairs are very young women from other countries who can become very homesick, not adjust well to the family, and perhaps be irresponsible. I could see that au pairs would be great with the right person, but considering that they pretty much come sight unseen, I would be very wary of going that route. What if the personalities did not match? It seems like a very big chance to take for cheap childcare.

Posted by: Emily | February 16, 2007 2:08 PM

I live in DC, so it is a geographical thing.

I don't think it's the wife's fault and a lot of times you don't know what you're getting into before you actually have kids, but it's a conversation that a lot of people don't have. My husband and I talked about it frankly- I told him I was not going to be the only parent. I didn't want a weekend dad kind of husband- I wanted a true partner. I've scaled back my career- I expected him to do the same thing. And of course I know husbands who are involved! I don't want to make it out like my husband is the only one and a saint.

Maybe this is the lawyer/lobbyist/Hill/finance world only- I'm sure it's different in other areas or different career fields. My point was that I think it's a shame to see the kids w/o an active dad and it's a shame that everything falls on the moms.

Those questions are the ones I would be asking myself in that situation- what's the point in being married and having kids if you're not around for them? Are the husbands just a paycheck? How would i feel if I didn't have a true partner?That kind of thing...

Posted by: to NCLawyer | February 16, 2007 2:09 PM

"so is it the wife's fault..."

Nc Lawyer, No, no, no. It's always the man's fault. Remember to say these words to your husband when anything goes wrong, "ITS ALL YOUR FAULT!"

In keeping a good marriage, it is essential to accurately assess blame before any conflict can be resolved.

Lawyers, of all people, should know this. :-)

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 16, 2007 2:09 PM

Megan = The Voice of Reason.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 2:09 PM

I live in DC, so it is a geographical thing.

I don't think it's the wife's fault and a lot of times you don't know what you're getting into before you actually have kids, but it's a conversation that a lot of people don't have. My husband and I talked about it frankly- I told him I was not going to be the only parent. I didn't want a weekend dad kind of husband- I wanted a true partner. I've scaled back my career- I expected him to do the same thing. And of course I know husbands who are involved! I don't want to make it out like my husband is the only one and a saint.

Maybe this is the lawyer/lobbyist/Hill/finance world only- I'm sure it's different in other areas or different career fields. My point was that I think it's a shame to see the kids w/o an active dad and it's a shame that everything falls on the moms.

Those questions are the ones I would be asking myself in that situation- what's the point in being married and having kids if you're not around for them? Are the husbands just a paycheck? How would i feel if I didn't have a true partner?That kind of thing...

Posted by: to NCLawyer | February 16, 2007 2:10 PM

Father of 4,

but it's the wife's fault if she hires the sexy au pair responsible for breaking up the marriage, too? right? LOL.

generally, I view placing blame to be a waste of time, but every now and then . . .

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 2:16 PM

"...ITS ALL YOUR FAULT!"

Thus the need to always say, "Guess what YOUR daughter did now!"

Posted by: Fred | February 16, 2007 2:17 PM

"Megan = The Voice of Reason."

LOL - it's a limited time engagement!


Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 2:18 PM

"Are the husbands just a paycheck?"

Pretty much. Do the math. Leslie's husband often comes home to a house full of sleeping kids. She tolerates this and is his enabler. Plus the wives get to be professional martyrs when their husbands dump them for slimmer & prettier models.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 2:19 PM

Yes, yes, I knew there would be some people who would not approve of the 10-year-old at home alone - which is fine because I am not seeking their approval. But I did want to say that OF COURSE I checked the law and there is nothing illegal about leaving a 10-year-old home alone for an hour. I also think a lot of people jump to conclusions about what kind of trouble unsupervised kids can get into vs. supervised kids. I don't have cable; I don't have a computer (let alone internet access); I don't have a playstation/nintendo/xbox or any other video game system. Long story short, my son would have to be terribly creative to find something within our home to get in "trouble" with. This isn't to say I don't think he'll ever try to break a rule; I just don't think aftercare is always and necessarily the lesser of two evils. The afterschool program at my child's school is mostly great - but it is not immune to bullying or kids abusing privileges. My son decided he would prefer to spend his after school time at home and I think he demonstrated he was ready to be responsible enough for that. Like other choices I've made as a mother, if something happens to suggest it isn't working/won't work out, I can always do something else.

I also second the complaint about the weird August day camp schedule - does everyone w/ children really take vacation at the same time?

Posted by: TakomaMom | February 16, 2007 2:20 PM

Didn't think I could add anything but I do have a friend who has an au pair for her boys (10 and 12 years old). The one thing she learned from one of her au pairs is the candidate may not be 100% honest about his/her smoking habits. The agency encourages them to say they did smoke/have quit because most families do not want a smoker placed with them. Her most successful placements were au pairs in early to mid 20s -- the 18/19 years old weren't always emotionally ready to leave home.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | February 16, 2007 2:25 PM

"I don't think it's the wife's fault and a lot of times you don't know what you're getting into before you actually have kids, but it's a conversation that a lot of people don't have."

This always blows my mind. Husband and I were required to do pre-Cana before the wedding; at one point we were given a questionnaire that asked us if we had discussed money, careers, children, division of labor, all that good stuff. We kind of snickered at it, because we had talked about all that stuff for ages. Isn't that what you talk about when you're falling in love with someone? Doesn't everyone like to visualize the life they'll build in great detail?

To my completely astonishment, there were plenty of people in that class who hadn't talked about any of that. None of it. Hadn't discussed money, who'd take care of the kids, if they'd even *have* kids. Nothing. And lots of them saw nothing wrong with that.

If they weren't talking about any of that stuff, what in God's name *did* they talk about? I mean, I love baseball as much as the next guy, but you can really only talk about whether Pete Rose was a better hitter than Ty Cobb for so many weeks. At some point, you think they'd have run out of other stuff to talk about and thought, "What the hell, maybe we should discuss childcare."

Posted by: Lizzie | February 16, 2007 2:27 PM

TakomaMom, generally your kids will learn to do those social activities like smoke, drink and drugs at school. I wouldn't worry about what a 10 year old can do at home, except play with matches. When I leave my 10 year old, I not oly remind him where the matches are located, but I also demand if he was going to play with them he must go outside in the back yard. Remember - Stop! Drop! and Roll!

So far, he hasn't been interested in playing with fire, which makes me worry a little.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 16, 2007 2:34 PM

Lizzie, I too am amazed that people decide to get married without any idea about the type of life they want to have. Crazy.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 16, 2007 2:36 PM

I am starting to see a part-time employment possibility once my older daughter starts school. I should look into seeing what it would take to become certified by Fairfax County as a day care provider. I don't think I could do that full time, but after school care could be a possibility. Even I limited it to kids in my daughter's elementary school, I imagine I could find some takers. Hmm....

Posted by: Robin | February 16, 2007 2:38 PM

I am starting to see a part-time employment possibility once my older daughter starts school. I should look into seeing what it would take to become certified by Fairfax County as a day care provider. I don't think I could do that full time, but after school care could be a possibility. Even I limited it to kids in my daughter's elementary school, I imagine I could find some takers. Hmm....

Posted by: Robin | February 16, 2007 2:40 PM

"At some point, you think they'd have run out of other stuff to talk about and thought, "What the hell, maybe we should discuss childcare.""

LOL - so true. I am also amazed how many people get married without ever really talking about how they see the future actually working. But I guess to be fair, your ideas can change an awful lot once you're actually faced with the task. My husband and I talked about children and what our goals/ideals were before we got married, though not in great detail. I think both of our ideas have changed over time and as we discover our strengths and weaknesses as parents, but luckily they've changed in compatible ways. But then neither of us had super strong feelings or well-developed ideas at the beginning, so we've kind of been figuring it out together. I can see it being hard if one partner has very strong, thought-out feelings, and the other partner doesn't - they may think they agree at the beginning but find out over time that the second partner's opinions aren't lining up after all.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 2:45 PM

"But I guess to be fair, your ideas can change an awful lot once you're actually faced with the task."

Of course they can! But to take part in an evolving discussion is one thing; not to even bring it up until you've hit the crisis point is something totally different.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 16, 2007 2:47 PM

Runs off with the husband after she helps trigger his mid-life crisis.

Explaining to the kids that the former au pair is now their step-mom and gets to sleep in Daddy's bed.

It's usually not a good idea to bring the fox into the henhouse.

_____________________________

Wow - we always heard stories like that but figured they were apocryphal. Given other stories of father/nanny relationships (Robin Williams, anyone?) I guess it's possible, but...wow!

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 2:47 PM

Lizzie, I'm with you. BF and I have discussed distribution of chores, childcare, bills, etc and we're nowhere close to marriage or even living together. (Hence my comment yesterday about his warped sense of "whoever earns less does more housework"--yuk.)

Posted by: Mona | February 16, 2007 2:48 PM

"I too am amazed that people decide to get married without any idea about the type of life they want to have. Crazy."

People change. People change. People change. Just because someone has an idea about "the type of life they want to have" doesn't mean everything will go as planned.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 2:48 PM

Runs off with the husband after she helps trigger his mid-life crisis.

Explaining to the kids that the former au pair is now their step-mom and gets to sleep in Daddy's bed.

It's usually not a good idea to bring the fox into the henhouse.

_____________________________

Wow - we always heard stories like that but figured they were apocryphal. Given other stories of father/nanny relationships (Robin Williams, anyone?) I guess it's possible, but...wow!

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 2:49 PM

"I too am amazed that people decide to get married without any idea about the type of life they want to have. Crazy."

People change. People change. People change. Just because someone has an idea about "the type of life they want to have" doesn't mean everything will go as planned.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 2:49 PM

So far, he hasn't been interested in playing with fire, which makes me worry a little.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 16, 2007 02:34 PM

Father of 4, every now and then I suspect you like instigating your detractors, don't you, LOL :>)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 2:50 PM

Lizzie

"If they weren't talking about any of that stuff, what in God's name *did* they talk about? "

They think and talk about when and where and how to have sex!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 2:50 PM

Lizzie

"If they weren't talking about any of that stuff, what in God's name *did* they talk about? "

They think and talk about when and where and how to have sex!!!

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 02:50 PM

Lol- ain't that the truth!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 2:51 PM

"People change. People change"

Of course they do - but the number of pepople who never discussed or considered the lifestyle they sought is crazy.

DH and I talked about how many children we would like, where we would like to live (ideally), the kind of home and whether we would have a SAHP if $ allowed. This was with the understanding that we could discuss and renegotiate as life came at us - but how you can decide to spend your life with someone and not even know that they wanted a SAHP when you wanted to work (or whatever) is beyond me.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 16, 2007 2:53 PM

Lizzie/Megan -- the questions you should ask before marriage (or wished you asked) article in NY Times was published in mid December. As late as last week I was seeing in it the most emailed articles side bar box. I guess a lot of people wait until the 11th hour to ask these questions.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/17/fashion/weddings/17FIELDBOX.html?ex=1171774800&en=3bc1ae38dae36632&ei=5070

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | February 16, 2007 2:53 PM

Emily, here's my take on the au pair option. We went this route because we wanted our children to be home, to continue at their excellent preschool, and to have the flexibility of non-standard hours if needed, but a major deciding factor was the foreign exchange experience that an au pair offers. Both my husband's family and my family hosted foreign exchange students and we participated in foreign exchange programs ourselves as kids. We liked the idea of our children learning another language at a young age, and we had the room to host an au pair. It has been a good experience for us.

We were very, very careful in making the selection. We wanted someone who was at least 21, who had lots of driving experience, and who was from a similar background (i.e., middle class, family intact). Not to impugn people who are not from the same background, but I suspected it would be best for us and I've been right. We do hear of other families who just want cheap childcare and don't follow the rules (only 45 hours a week), but that's not our style.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 16, 2007 2:54 PM

Robin

The day care provider employment sounds like a win-win plan!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 2:54 PM

Fo4, my 17 month-old is too little to play with matches, but is developing an annoying habit of turning my flashlight on a throwing it down the stairs.

It's one of those big mag-lites and he can barely lift it. From his standpoint the advantage of the weight is that it makes a helluva racket bounding down the stairs.

I have no idea why he's doing this. Maybe he needs counseling. :-)

Posted by: Proud Papa | February 16, 2007 2:55 PM

Robin

The day care provider employment sounds like a win-win plan!


Posted by: | February 16, 2007 02:54 PM

You know the saying that a woman who marries a rich man for the money earns every penny. I think the person that cares for other peoples kids earns every penny. God bless ya - I'd rather work at the chicken plant.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 16, 2007 2:59 PM

Proud Papa, the flashlight is one of my son's favorite toys. It's a riot to watch - he shines it all around and tries to chase it and step on it. Not unlike a dog chasing its tail, it's pretty funny.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 3:00 PM

"Is it because the diagnostic methods are better, or is the disease more prevalent?"

_____________

IEEE Spectrum, the professional journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, had a very interesting article in the October, 2006 issue. It was titled, "Autism and Engineers." There is a professor of developmental psycho-pathology at the University Cambridge named Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen. (Yes, he's the cousin of Sacha Baron-Cohen of "Borat" fame.)

Dr. Baron-Cohen asserts that one significant reason for the increase in autism is that there are significantly more female scientists and engineers than there used to be. In the past, there was no particular reason that a male scientist or engineer would marry a woman with similar tendencies. Now, the chances are much higher that scientists and engineers will marry. That, according to Dr. Baron-Cohen, increases the likelihood of having a child with autism.

According to Dr. Baron-Cohen's data, engineers are twice as likely as others to have autistic children, and when both parents are engineers, the odds get much, much higher.

While the theory is somewhat controversial at present, it's given support by such experts as Dr. Temple Grandin. And early empirical data suggests that the occurrence of autism and related syndromes (e.g., Asberger's) is far higher in Silicon Valley than in most of the U.S.

My wife, who now works as an Instructional Assistant in Special Education in the schools, found the article fascinating and thinks there's at least something to it.

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 3:00 PM

They talk about how they IMAGINE life will turn out. It's a short conversation.

They will both be happy and healthy. They will save for retirement and never have a health crisis that drains the bank account. They will never be uninsured. Their pregnancies will be uneventful. Their 1.87 children will have no birth defects or learning disabilities. Their parents will live to a ripe old age, with their senses 'til the end, when they die suddenly in their sleep. Their siblings will be financially stable and will never borrow any sum greater than $20. Housework will do itself. The addition of dogs, cats, or children will not measurably add to the housework.

They will have the career and financial flexibility to make whatever childcare arrangements make sense for them. They will never be waitlisted. If one of them stays home with the kids, he or she will be well-suited for the task. Neither parent will be downsized.

There will be no hurricanes and, if there are, they will be insured against both flooding and wind damage.

They will love each other forever. The au pairs will all be dull and overweight.

What's to talk about?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 3:01 PM

"Is it because the diagnostic methods are better, or is the disease more prevalent?"

_____________

IEEE Spectrum, the professional journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, had a very interesting article in the October, 2006 issue. It was titled, "Autism and Engineers." There is a professor of developmental psycho-pathology at the University Cambridge named Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen. (Yes, he's the cousin of Sacha Baron-Cohen of "Borat" fame.)

Dr. Baron-Cohen asserts that one significant reason for the increase in autism is that there are significantly more female scientists and engineers than there used to be. In the past, there was no particular reason that a male scientist or engineer would marry a woman with similar tendencies. Now, the chances are much higher that scientists and engineers will marry. That, according to Dr. Baron-Cohen, increases the likelihood of having a child with autism.

According to Dr. Baron-Cohen's data, engineers are twice as likely as others to have autistic children, and when both parents are engineers, the odds get much, much higher.

While the theory is somewhat controversial at present, it's given support by such experts as Dr. Temple Grandin. And early empirical data suggests that the occurrence of autism and related syndromes (e.g., Asberger's) is far higher in Silicon Valley than in most of the U.S.

My wife, who now works as an Instructional Assistant in Special Education in the schools, found the article fascinating and thinks there's at least something to it.

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 3:02 PM

"Of course they do - but the number of pepople who never discussed or considered the lifestyle they sought is crazy."

Here's the problem: For example, DH and I discussed I suppose what you would call the "lifestyle we sought." We wanted to both have careers, be financially secure, and not be tied down. Well, for obvious reasons none of those considerations like child care ever came up, or even had reason to, because children didn't fit into our plan. So are we stupid for not planning out day care for the children we never planned on having. Don't think so. People just have to adapt.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 3:04 PM

Army Brat - thanks - very interesting perspective!

Posted by: Me | February 16, 2007 3:04 PM

Army Brat - thanks - very interesting perspective!

Posted by: Me | February 16, 2007 3:05 PM

LOL, NC Lawyer. Right on the money.

And now I'm wondering if I work in the same office as you . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 16, 2007 3:05 PM

Army Brat

Gotta go home & give my non-scientist husband a big kiss!!!!

The theory does make a lot of sense.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 3:08 PM

So are we stupid for not planning out day care for the children we never planned on having

No - but you had 9 months to talk about it. Why wait until there is a crisis to discuss things is what I'm trying to say. I love how everything just happens to everyone on this board.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 16, 2007 3:09 PM

Wow I like the topic. :) I haven't faced this much yet and so far my parents have been able to pinch hit the few times I've had issues (like an emergency dentst appointment for me). Good to think about.

On the homeschooling topic I just wanted to say that I take my toddler out during the day and at the pool particularly I have seen a few homeschooling families together there so their kids could socialize, and one time one of the dads was in the water doing quite a neat (I thought) lesson on physics, having them run around in a circle to create a vortex (?? or something <-- not homeschooled).

I doubt I'll homeschool but it sure has been interesting to get my prejudices (that it's mostly worksheet based and isolating) blown out of the water.

Posted by: Shandra | February 16, 2007 3:10 PM

Army Brat - that's fascinating. My husband is older and an engineer, guess it's a good thing I'm not an engineer too!

NC Lawyer - LOL, that's spot on. Love the dull overweight au pair. Honestly though, my husband and I probably had more conversations on those lines than on the down and dirty planning lines when we were dating. But I guess we established that we had the same or very compatible priorities, and that has served us well so far - knock on wood - though we could definitely have benefited from a little more advanced financial planning (and heck, we still could if I'm really being honest).

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 3:10 PM

"Now, the chances are much higher that scientists and engineers will marry."

Oh, no. I'm a biologist and he's an electrical engineer.

Hooray for law school--maybe there will still be a chance for us!

Posted by: Mona | February 16, 2007 3:15 PM

NCLawyer,

I disagree. Though we all romanticize our futures, there are basic views on life and how kids should be raised and money spent that should be discussed.

Some men believe women should be at home- some women wouldn't dream of ever working outside of the home. What if they marry a person who doesn't feel that way? What if they never really talked about it?

Of course we all hope our parents will never need car in old age- but most of us realize that won't happen. It should be talked about- it's not unrealistic to expect future spouses to discuss whether the parents would live with them or if they'd go in a home, if you'd be willing to relocate to care for parents.

It's not unrealistic for couples to discuss whether they'd be willing to relocate for a spouse's career or whether they envision their partner working long hours and traveling often.

Saving for retirement should be talked about- some don't care and believe SS will take care of them. Some believe in maxing out 401Ks.

Some want to pay for their kid's college educations, some think it should be up to the kid.

These are all views on life that need to be discussed.

Of course life throws curve balls and disasters can happen, but I have a definite lifestyle I had in mind 10 years ago and the basics haven't changed. I knew I'd stay home w/ my kids when they were little, get back to work on a limited basis, and ratchet it up when they go off to college. That hasn't changed. I never thought I'd marry a military man, and I've rolled with the punches on the moves and sacrifices, but my philosophies on raising kids and a marriage haven't changed.

SO, yes, life changes and people change, but I think there's a foundation that will always be there.

The divorce rate is so high because people don't think they ahev to discuss these things- almost as if married on a whim! My husband and I were together for 4 years before we got married- we knew we were on the same path.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 3:16 PM


I like the questions on whether the spouse is a true partner, or go-to person who steps up to resolve childcare crises.

We consider ourselves jointly and severally responsible. Though as I was trying to show about coordinating our work schedules, we like to arrange our work schedules so that it's clear on a day-by-day basis who is the parent-on-call, first in line to to be 'plan B' that day (and it alternates!)

I know that I once mentioned to some colleagues, both young fathers with SAH wives, that I thought I'd take the kids to the zoo all day Saturday, since DH had a grant proposal due . . . they looked envious and said, gee, it would be nice to have a wife who was an academic, who understood about grant deadlines and the need to work through weekends sometimes. . . I just smiled, but I was thinking, yeah right --- if you were married to someone like me, occasionally *you'd* be the one picking up the slack, and there's no way in h* you'd be showing up every evening to dinner already-on-the-table, to tuck the kids into bed, then creep back in to your labs (as they both did). . . you want an accommodating wife, you need to take some turns doing the accommodating . . . They were totally unappreciative of how subsidized they already were as parents, with wives taking on total childcare responsibility and just asking them to put in their appearances, briefly on weeknights and on the weekend . . .

I know some careers are totally inflexible, where setting foot into work is like entering a vault, unreachable to civilians until you emerge again at the end of the workday. These include jobs with billable hours, jobs which schedule your every minute into meetings, jobs where you are a contact person, caregiver, retail salesperson, etc. In these cases a partner accepts the absence of a 'go-to' person as an essential part of the spouse's job. But I wonder whether in the very same job, some people maintain the mystique of "I'm at work, I absolutely can't be bothered or interrupted" while others find ways to accomplish the work yet still stay on-call as parent/co-parent. If the absolutely-can't-be-bothered are still taking responsibility, arranging extremely robust childcare setups and contingencies so that, indeed, they're never/rarely needed to step up as plan B, great (many do arrange nannies/au pairs for just this reason); but if they're just foisting the contingency planning/filling-in on a less assertive spouse, phooey.

The example mentioned, where the dad told the preschool "I can't be your go-to guy on this" when they called him to pick up his sick preschooler --- to me that's just inexcusable. His sick child is not the preschool's responsibility, (s)he's his.

I prefer the true partner model, myself. The stresses seem less and the rewards better-noted when we experience them together . . .

Posted by: KB | February 16, 2007 3:18 PM

NCLawyer,

I disagree. Though we all romanticize our futures, there are basic views on life and how kids should be raised and money spent that should be discussed.

Some men believe women should be at home- some women wouldn't dream of ever working outside of the home. What if they marry a person who doesn't feel that way? What if they never really talked about it?

Of course we all hope our parents will never need car in old age- but most of us realize that won't happen. It should be talked about- it's not unrealistic to expect future spouses to discuss whether the parents would live with them or if they'd go in a home, if you'd be willing to relocate to care for parents.

It's not unrealistic for couples to discuss whether they'd be willing to relocate for a spouse's career or whether they envision their partner working long hours and traveling often.

Saving for retirement should be talked about- some don't care and believe SS will take care of them. Some believe in maxing out 401Ks.

Some want to pay for their kid's college educations, some think it should be up to the kid.

These are all views on life that need to be discussed.

Of course life throws curve balls and disasters can happen, but I have a definite lifestyle I had in mind 10 years ago and the basics haven't changed. I knew I'd stay home w/ my kids when they were little, get back to work on a limited basis, and ratchet it up when they go off to college. That hasn't changed. I never thought I'd marry a military man, and I've rolled with the punches on the moves and sacrifices, but my philosophies on raising kids and a marriage haven't changed.

SO, yes, life changes and people change, but I think there's a foundation that will always be there.

The divorce rate is so high because people don't think they ahev to discuss these things- almost as if married on a whim! My husband and I were together for 4 years before we got married- we knew we were on the same path.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 3:18 PM

"Anyone notice that some of these homeschoolers are starting to sound like cult leaders?

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 12:44 PM

another enlightening contribution from the anonymous crowd. chicken?

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 12:57 PM"

I thought this was funny - one anonymous chicken poster calling another anonymous poster chicken. Which came first, the anonymity or the chicken?

Posted by: cmac | February 16, 2007 3:19 PM

NCLawyer,

I disagree. Though we all romanticize our futures, there are basic views on life and how kids should be raised and money spent that should be discussed.

Some men believe women should be at home- some women wouldn't dream of ever working outside of the home. What if they marry a person who doesn't feel that way? What if they never really talked about it?

Of course we all hope our parents will never need car in old age- but most of us realize that won't happen. It should be talked about- it's not unrealistic to expect future spouses to discuss whether the parents would live with them or if they'd go in a home, if you'd be willing to relocate to care for parents.

It's not unrealistic for couples to discuss whether they'd be willing to relocate for a spouse's career or whether they envision their partner working long hours and traveling often.

Saving for retirement should be talked about- some don't care and believe SS will take care of them. Some believe in maxing out 401Ks.

Some want to pay for their kid's college educations, some think it should be up to the kid.

These are all views on life that need to be discussed.

Of course life throws curve balls and disasters can happen, but I have a definite lifestyle I had in mind 10 years ago and the basics haven't changed. I knew I'd stay home w/ my kids when they were little, get back to work on a limited basis, and ratchet it up when they go off to college. That hasn't changed. I never thought I'd marry a military man, and I've rolled with the punches on the moves and sacrifices, but my philosophies on raising kids and a marriage haven't changed.

SO, yes, life changes and people change, but I think there's a foundation that will always be there.

The divorce rate is so high because people don't think they ahev to discuss these things- almost as if married on a whim! My husband and I were together for 4 years before we got married- we knew we were on the same path.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 3:19 PM

And now I'm wondering if I work in the same office as you . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 16, 2007 03:05 PM

Yikes! WorkingMomX, I could be outed?? If there's a Carolina Cafe downstairs in your building, you've found me out.

dotted, Fred? your thoughts on the autism and engineering connection . . .

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 3:20 PM

Lizzie - if you spent more than 5 minutes on whether Ty Cobb or Pete Rose was a better hitter, you spent too long. And you have to question the judgment of whomever was advocating Rose.

Posted by: No Brainer | February 16, 2007 3:20 PM

Mona,

A warning about law school -- I saw a lot of relationships and even a few marriages break up over the last three years. If you make it through intact, the bar exam is still lurking.

Hubby and I made it through so far (the bar is coming up -- I'm taking a blog/study break), so I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it's hard work!

Posted by: lawgirl | February 16, 2007 3:20 PM

Another very similar theory is that some of the eligible engineers would not have been valued as marriage material when other skill sets were valued...

There also has been at least one study suggesting that father over 40 is a risk factor. (Finally one where it may not be the mother's "fault"!)

Posted by: more on autism | February 16, 2007 3:20 PM

Nope, no Carolina Cafe! Though I envy you having it so close! I guess you're safe from being outed.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 16, 2007 3:23 PM

"Lizzie - if you spent more than 5 minutes on whether Ty Cobb or Pete Rose was a better hitter, you spent too long. And you have to question the judgment of whomever was advocating Rose."

Husband likes to advocate Rose to get me all wound up sometimes. He used to do that with pitchers, too, until I sat him down with a stat book and showed him Al Spaulding, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson. He saw Spaulding's ERA and it took him a moment or two to regain the power of speech. People should pay more attention to the old time guys.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 16, 2007 3:24 PM

"Why wait until there is a crisis to discuss things is what I'm trying to say."

I think you're definitely right about the failure to communicate. But I think that oftentimes the failure probably is less that a couple never talked about it, than over time their ideas change and they're not talking about that - it's easier in the short term to limp along and wing it and not recognize or discuss the fact that your feelings/beliefs are beginning to diverge in a more serious way. Or one partner begins to change their mind about something they agreed on, but doesn't speak up and instead begins to harbor a resentment about the initial decision. So the crisis builds up over a period of non-communication as people change. At least, that seems to be a lot more common among the people I know than them just never having discussed it at all.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 3:25 PM

Proud Papa, both my sons loved this flashlight we had that was shaped like a tiger and when they pressed the button to shine the light, it would growl. they would also shine the light in my eyes to try to be mean, and when that didn't get my attention, they would throw it at me.

Most evenings when I get home from work, I play baby beatup with my 4 yo, which I can't do since he got stitches in his head last week; another story all together and its not my fault, but the #1 favorite toy of my sons, besides their balls of caurse, are my canes.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 16, 2007 3:27 PM

'Experienced Mom, Do you bail out WOHMs in an emergency? If so, how often, how do they reciprocate, & do you ever feel taken advantage of?'

If my answer is still wanted, I bail out all moms in an emergency. I did refuse to take a sick (vomiting) preschooler for the day once because I didn't want my small children to get sick, and it was for the parents convenience, not an emergency. We do lots of play dates with kids whose parents work and can't reciprocate much. That's fine, because the kids are old enough that they aren't much trouble anyway. I drive kids around whose parents are at work, they one I drive the most more than reciprocates on weekends. The only moms I have ever felt taken advantage of by were stay at home moms who didn't reciprocate at all.

Posted by: experienced mom | February 16, 2007 3:27 PM

A few thoughts:

For the 3 y/o bday party...have it at home, serve a small healthy treat, play pin the tail on the donkey, and if you give a "gift bag," make it simple and preferably disposable--most parents are truly sick of the copious, superfluous pile o' crap that come home in these bags. Save yourself some money and also help ratchet down the over-the-top party thing that so many folks seem determined to make over their kids' b-days. (Gift bag can also be something made at the party, like a cookie made w/ cookie-cutters, or a drawing...)

On the topic of older kids and supervision, I recall a mom whom I greatly admired telling me when I was in my twenties that she felt the notion that kids need to be left alone to totally don their own thing in the teen years, that instead a parent should be more vigilant, and take a greater interest and retain loving authority to both support and guide their kids.

As to homeschooling, cults, effectiveness, socialization and curriculi (?) I think the same questions can be asked about schools, both public and private. In schools there are gangs, bullies, cliques, trends and peer-pressure, to greater and lesser degrees, and fewer opportunities for in-depth meaningful human connection and more chances to get snared into something tempting or unsavory. What is being taught, how it is approached and teacher and student accountability are all issues, as well. In the end there are pros and cons to both schools or homeschooling so there is little point in judging one or the other without comprehensive personal experience with both and substantial, credible non-partisan data to back up any opinion or assertions made.

Carry on...

Posted by: Dignity for Single Parents | February 16, 2007 3:30 PM

that's why I would only want to do after school care - would drive me nuts to do it all day. I like kids - mine, and other peoples - but other peoples only for a certain amount of time.

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 02:54 PM

You know the saying that a woman who marries a rich man for the money earns every penny. I think the person that cares for other peoples kids earns every penny. God bless ya - I'd rather work at the chicken plant.

Posted by: To Moxiemom from Robin | February 16, 2007 3:31 PM

Another very similar theory is that some of the eligible engineers would not have been valued as marriage material when other skill sets were valued...

There also has been at least one study suggesting that father over 40 is a risk factor. (Finally one where it may not be the mother's "fault"!)

Posted by: more on autism | February 16, 2007 3:31 PM


to anon at 3:16, 3:18, and 3:19, I think you meant to disagree with someone else. I'm not of the "people change" mentality. We talked it all out before we married as well. Having said that, you can't hold your spouse to statements made pre-marriage if, when you really get to a certain fork in the road, the plans you made pre-marriage, pre-kids, pre-whatever life brings, don't work for them. Or you can, but that's not love, IMHO.

KB said, "I know some careers are totally inflexible, where setting foot into work is like entering a vault, unreachable to civilians until you emerge again at the end of the workday. These include jobs with billable hours, jobs which schedule your every minute into meetings, jobs where you are a contact person, caregiver, retail salesperson, etc. In these cases a partner accepts the absence of a 'go-to' person as an essential part of the spouse's job."

Retail? Yes. When you're just starting out? Yes, again; however, as someone in one of those other jobs, sure, some days offer less flexibility than others and I am often not in charge of my calendar. There are certain days when I cannot be the pick-up parent under any circumstances. BUT I suspect that any attorney (unless self-employed) who has worked with his/her employer for 5 years or more and still claims to never, ever have any flexibility has sold a bill of goods to his spouse. I do what I can to cover emergencies, and it's not 50%, probably closer to 25%. I make up for it by being the camp and teacher work day planner and handling all early morning doctor's appointments, and whatever else I can, and I get everyone off to school and work in the morning.

I am sorry, KB, but I am not as accepting as you are of the spouse who claims his job won't allow him to be the go-to person EVER.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 3:35 PM

Lizzie - if you spent more than 5 minutes on whether Ty Cobb or Pete Rose was a better hitter, you spent too long. And you have to question the judgment of whomever was advocating Rose.

Posted by: No Brainer | February 16, 2007 3:35 PM

I think I'm in love.

Lizzie - if things don't work out with the husband, I hope our paths cross!

Posted by: No Brainer | February 16, 2007 3:38 PM

Lawgirl, thanks for the warning...I'm pretty nervous about law school. I know it's not going to be easy. Can you tell me what an average day was like for you your first year? I'd really appreciate it. BF and I have so many problems now that I have no idea if we're going to make it...I hope so.

Good luck on the bar! I know you'll pass the first try! :-) I'll be pulling for you. When do you take it?

Posted by: Mona | February 16, 2007 3:38 PM

WorkingMomX:

Army Brat -- a quick question: how well did your children handle the changing of au pairs? I'm a little anxious about that!

____________

It was tough, but we worked through it. Right from the very start, we made sure that the kids knew that "Simone is going to be here until this day" and circled it on the calendar. Sometimes we'd count the days. Yes, there was lots of crying when the au pairs left (and that was just from the parents :-) but we made sure that the kids knew "Lorraine is just going back to Ireland; she didn't die!"

(It took a while to answer this one because I didn't have Plan Q worked out. Since Howard County schools were closed on Wednesday and Thursday, they decided to have the Valentine's Day party today. I got a call at 1:30 telling me I was responsible for having two dozen cupcakes there by 2:30. YAARRRGGGGGGHHHHH! On the other hand, the hug I got from the 5th grader when I walked in the door with them made it worthwhile!)

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 3:39 PM

Lawgirl, thanks for the warning...I'm pretty nervous about law school. I know it's not going to be easy. Can you tell me what an average day was like for you your first year? I'd really appreciate it. BF and I have so many problems now that I have no idea if we're going to make it...I hope so.

Good luck on the bar! I know you'll pass the first try! :-) I'll be pulling for you. When do you take it?

Posted by: Mona | February 16, 2007 3:39 PM

The manner in which my husband and I met, married and had children was very unusual, and may be considered irresponsible or even stupid by some. We did talk about what we wanted for the future and did have some plans for childcare and career before our children were born, but not to the extent that has been discussed here (pre-marital counseling, etc.) Sometimes, things happen that you don't/can't prepare for. I skipped over the chapter in the "What to Expect" book on pregnancy complications because that wasn't part of the "plan". I seldom read any articles about autism, because that wasn't in the plan either. My husband certainly didn't prepare for becoming a permanent stay at home parent. Because of what life threw at us, we had to adapt, and fast! No matter how much you plan for the future, life has a way of derailing you and forcing you to take a different path. You end up dealing with things you never dreamed could happen to you. While it's a very good idea to talk to your future spouse about your life together, it's how you actually come together and face life as it's happening that is really important.

Posted by: Bad Planner | February 16, 2007 3:41 PM

I don't think it's unfair for a spouse with a demanding job to bow out of emergency child-care situations, specially when the other spouse is generally in charge of such matters. My guess is the spouse with the demanding job is also the spouse with the high-paying job -- the high-paying job that benefits the whole family. A significant income is just as good a contribution as carpool duty. Better, in fact, because it's what pays for the car, house, food, etc. Child-care tasks aren't the only tasks that make a good parent. Providing food and shelter is pretty high on the list.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 3:41 PM

NC Lawyer,

Exactly! We all imagine the perfect lives. My sister's friend brought in an au pair from Finland and one of their mutual friends thanked her for making sure the Finn was so unattractive!

But I think an interesting -- and uplifting -- question would be "What was your marriage proposal like?" or for the unmarried what is your fantasy proposal.
Your comment got me thinking.

Posted by: Denk | February 16, 2007 3:41 PM

experienced mom, you are a saint!

Posted by: Mona | February 16, 2007 3:43 PM

One of Leslie's suggestions is: * Keep a long list of alternate babysitters who are available on short notice

_______________________

Being the father of 17 and 15 year old girls has made me very, very popular among a certain set of people. (For some reason the 16 year old son doesn't come up.) So they've drafted their parents as their agents. First, they don't take a babysitting job unless we approve of the customer. Mostly, we need to know them - I do not want one of my teenage daughters put in danger! Then we consider the kids - my daughters aren't tolerating your spoiled brats. If the kids don't behave, we're not putting up with it. (Umm, did I mention that good babysitters have a LOT of leverage?)

We usually negotiate the minimum fee, as well, and any other conditions.

Heck, I enjoy it. For an engineer, there's nothing like having a couple of lawyers over a barrel! (Sorry, NC Lawyer, no offense!)

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 3:49 PM

"dotted, Fred? your thoughts on the autism and engineering connection . . ."

I always though that there was a OCD/Engineering connection.

Posted by: Fred | February 16, 2007 3:50 PM

I don't think it's unfair for a spouse with a demanding job to bow out of emergency child-care situations, specially when the other spouse is generally in charge of such matters. My guess is the spouse with the demanding job is also the spouse with the high-paying job -- the high-paying job that benefits the whole family. A significant income is just as good a contribution as carpool duty. Better, in fact, because it's what pays for the car, house, food, etc. Child-care tasks aren't the only tasks that make a good parent. Providing food and shelter is pretty high on the list.

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 03:41 PM


Well, you can provide food and also be around to help raise your kids with your spouse!

My salary provides the rent and child care bills. My husband's pays the bills, buys the food, and saves and invests.

Yes, I make more than my husband does, and neither of us makes as much as we COULD- we choose to actually participate pretty equally in our daughter's life.

We get ready and commute all together in the morning- we both do drop off at preschool, he drops me off, then he goes to work. In the evening, he picks up our daughter and then me, we all go home together and cook and read books and give her a bath, and put her to bed together.

Every once in awhile he needs to work late or vice versa- but it's rare.

So, we SOMEHOW manage to feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, and be a family while both working.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 3:51 PM

"I skipped over the chapter in the "What to Expect" book on pregnancy complications because that wasn't part of the "plan". I seldom read any articles about autism, because that wasn't in the plan either"

Bad Planner - maybe we are just cut from different cloth. I read both of those chapters just in case. DH and I talked about what we would do if our babies had downs when I was 6 weeks pregnant. We talk a lot. He knows that I never want to live in Jersey, San Francisco or anywhere south of VA. Doesn't mean I wouldn't if the situation was such that our options were limited - but he knows. I knew that he preferred to have a SAHM for our children and I wanted to be a SAHM so that worked for us. He said "if you decide you want to work we can figure that out." and I know that if something happened to him or his career that I would need to pull up my panty hose and get back out there. We are well insured and I guess pretty practical people. I guess its just a different mindset.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 16, 2007 3:51 PM

Mona, on law school and relationships - I started law school right after we got married (in fact, I missed orientation and my very first class because I was still on my honeymoon). I found that having my husband and a well-established life outside of law school really helped keep me sane and keep school in perspective. I think law school is like clutter - it will expand to take up whatever amount of space you have to give it, so you have to just set the limits. I also found that at my school, the students who had some life and work experience had a much easier time prioritizing and also seemed to be more focused about what they wanted out of their education than the students who came straight from college. I'm sure that you will do great, whatever happens with your relationship with your BF - my advice is just to keep your eye on what's important to YOU, not what's important to everybody else.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 3:54 PM

Army Brat, Aw shucks, there are one or two of us that make good customers. We pay a little more than the going rate so that good babysitters (fun, responsible and like/love our children) are willing to make themselves available when we're desparate. We generally ask our sitters what dates are convenient for them before making plans, rather than asking our sitter if she/he is available only a certain date. And we've had great luck with teenage male sitters. IMHO, your friends are missing out if they're not interested in sucking your son into the babysitter list. Will he drive to North Carolina for $[confidential] an hour?

I'm not saying it's justified, but I've had a sitter or two be pretty glad for my J.D. when they need a recommendation letter for a grad-school program :>) It's nice to do a good turn for a good kid when the opportunity arises.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 3:56 PM

Lizzie,

The real question is who was the bigger A--hole, Cobb or Rose?

Posted by: Fred | February 16, 2007 3:58 PM

NC lawyer,

Not exact the version I tell but close:

http://www.medauto.com/virgin.htm

Posted by: Fred | February 16, 2007 4:02 PM

I basically agree with Megan. Some people devote pretty much all of their time to law school, at the expense of hobbies they enjoy and loved ones. Others make room for outside jobs, families, and activities. It's definitely better to keep doing things you enjoy doing -- it will help with stress at the very least.

That being said, you will invariably study almost every free minute your first year, because first-years create a sort of competitive frenzy. Second year, you will (hopefully) join a law review and devote quite a lot of time to that. Ideally, by your third year, you can relax and enjoy your final year before the bar exam and full-time work afterward.

As for relationships, I found my husband didn't really understand the demands of law school, but we made it work. You have to make time to spend together, and remember what it's like to talk to a non-law-student, which can be hard, especially in the first two years.

Posted by: lawgirl | February 16, 2007 4:04 PM

Thanks, Megan! That does help give me a small breath of relief; I do have PLENTY of life experience (much of it stressful), and a ton of work experience as well. In addition to people with work experience being slightly more prone to success (from what I hear), we also earn more right out of law school than those with no experience (also from what I hear).

Posted by: Mona | February 16, 2007 4:04 PM

Ha classic:
"Develop a reciprocal arrangement of pitch-hitting with network of parents"

Pitch-hitting - you really should avoid sports analogies when you don't even know the words I mean pitch-hitting sounds like you are tossing the bats at people or something.

Posted by: aa | February 16, 2007 4:08 PM

You know you're in trouble when all of the men in the neighbor start dropping by on phoney pretexts in order to meet your new au pair.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 4:09 PM

Three famous trial lawyers went to heaven (that's a joke in itself). They found a long line waiting to get in. They were told to go to the back of the line. All three were griping, saying they should go straight to the front of the line as they were so famous. Just about then, a man dressed in white with a stethescope around his neck walked all the way to the front of the line and went directly into heaven. The lawyers complained and asked who was that person, and why did he get into heaven without waiting in line. An angel replied, "Oh, that's God. Sometimes he thinks he's a doctor."

Posted by: Joke Time! from Fred | February 16, 2007 4:09 PM

Hmm, that is interesting about engineers and autism. Actually one of the things they think might be happening is that my DD falls under the umbrella of mild form of autism. She generally prefers to play with herself (not sexually) or with adults. So her social skills are lacking. DH is an engineer and I am a statistician. I might add, DH is very social and I am less social. But both hold our owns. One of the problems with autism is the umbrella is so wide. A good portion of what they are labeling autism is social awkwardness. It is not as if the child is unaware or unaffected by outsiders. They just lack the social skills as a typical child. When the teacher described why she thought DD might have this, I laughed and said, "you do realize that describes more then 1/2 the people I work with." Either way, DD is scheduled to see a neurologist and a developmental pediatrician this spring. Interesting. Scary too.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 16, 2007 4:09 PM

NC lawyer,

I think we actually agree. I was saying there are some jobs where the spouse is truly inaccessible --- surgeon when operating comes to mind. I'm probably not the best judge of such jobs, from the outside, but I listed some that others have characterized this way. I do know one still might want to have children with such a spouse --- even doctors with little control over their schedules can be great parents, if they put in place rock-solid childcare covering odd hours . . .

But that was all qualifier for my suspicion that many who claim they can't be disturbed at work do so more out of preference than need . . . and are subsidized by their more responsible spouses, who trust their self-report of unavailability . . . and that it is certainly more satisfying for me as a parent to have a true partner who is as engaged and responsible and convenience-sacrificing as I am (as I fortunately do). . .

Gee, I thought if anything I was being a bit harsh on the don't-bother-me-with-
childcare-issues-at-work types ;-) .

Just because I'm willing to hypothetically excuse the truly, truly can't-be-on-call-parent, doesn't mean I'm likely to often accept that claim in real life . . . . And I don't think I'd really be happy in such a parenting relationship, even if it were for a good cause . . .

KB

>I am sorry, KB, but I am not as accepting >as you are of the spouse who claims his >job won't allow him to be the go-to person >EVER.

Posted by: KB | February 16, 2007 4:11 PM

Thank you too, lawgirl. I know I'm underestimating how difficult/overwhelming it's going to be, so it helps to have reality checks from people who've been there. I really appreciate it. Luckily (I guess), I'm moving to an area where I know exactly one person, my BF, so there won't be many distractions from my friends, who I love dearly but who are pretty relaxed and not under much pressure and have plenty of time to go out and have fun. I have a feeling that my only "friends" will be study partners and competitors. Will I still have time to exercise?

Again, thanks, and good luck on the bar--I'm sure you won't need it!

Posted by: Mona | February 16, 2007 4:11 PM

Ha classic:
"Develop a reciprocal arrangement of pitch-hitting with network of parents"

Pitch-hitting - you really should avoid sports analogies when you don't even know the words I mean pitch-hitting sounds like you are tossing the bats at people or something.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 4:11 PM

On Autism -- it seems a lot of teachers and even medical professionals are pretty "diagnosis happy." Littly Suzy likes to play alone, she must be autistic. Little Johnny is rambunctious and won't pay attention, he must be ADD.

Let's just medicate them all, that will help!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 4:15 PM

Will I still have time to exercise?

Yes! Keep exercising. It will help with stress and "library butt," a serious medical condition caused by excessive sitting.

Anyway, back to the books for me!

Posted by: lawgirl | February 16, 2007 4:22 PM

Fred - LOL! Thanks for the double-joke Friday! The wait was torture. I'm going to have to change my name here, though, soon since I'm drawing lawyer-heat.

I vote for Cobb. Your vote?

Laura/Mona, remind me. You're not getting married BEFORE law school, right? You're just moving. Or am I mixed up. Did you accept an offer yet? Where?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 4:24 PM

IMHO, your friends are missing out if they're not interested in sucking your son into the babysitter list. Will he drive to North Carolina for $[confidential] an hour?

______________________

NC Lawyer: depends on how close you are to Greenville - his uncle, cousins and grandmother live there. (Actually, it's closer to Blackjack than Greenville.) My brother lived there when he divorced; he got custody of the two daughters. Mom retired from teaching in Louisiana and moved next door to him to help him raise the girls.

Seriously, though, I think he would do a good job babysitting if there were boys, say about 5 - 9 years old. He umpires Little League baseball games and has a blast - he gets along well with the kids who are playing. But for whatever reason, he gags facetiously whenever you mention it to him, and the parents who call the house looking for a babysitter don't ever seem to be interested in talking to him.

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 4:29 PM

Haha, lawgirl, I don't feel "right" if I don't exercise. Last fall I had a pinched nerve, and my doc prescribed bed rest. But he said not to spend time sitting because that exacerbated the problem as well as pain from my cracked vertebrae. So, either stand up or lie down. It was a pain, literally.

NC Lawyer, thanks for asking--I'm not getting married for a long time, but I do have a serious boyfriend. I'm moving to California, which is where he lives, if I go to Santa Clara University. But we've been having so many problems that half the time I'm tempted to accept the offer from American University and stay put, knowing full well that'd be the end of our relationship. So no, I haven't officially accepted any offer, but I've narrowed it down to two schools. How did you decide which school to attend, and did personal factors affect your decision?

Posted by: Mona | February 16, 2007 4:33 PM

No doubt Cobb was a bigger tool than Rose.

It's not even up for a debate, unless your heritage/gender is precisely the same as Cobb's.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 4:39 PM

Okay, this comment of Leslie's finally got to me (I've seen similar comments from others):

My children are pretty spoiled. Our almost 10 year old just started doing his own laundry.

_________________________________

It's probably just the engineer in me, but why would the 10 year old just do his own laundry? Further (and I know some couples who do this), why would Mom do her own laundry, Dad do his own, etc?

Okay, okay, I'm an engineer, but geez, that just strikes me as a waste. There are six in our family; all of us have jeans. All jeans get washed the same way. We have a big washing machine (bought it when we were dealing with three children under the age of 4). So why have six different people each wash two pairs of jeans? Why not just wash all 12 pairs of jeans in a single load? Saves time; saves water; saves electricity; saves money; saves the planet; etc. That's the way my wife and I did it from the time we got married - whoever was doing the laundry did the laundry, whatever was dirty. When we taught the kids, that's the same rule we taught them - don't you dare waste money by doing a load of laundry with just your three dirty shirts; wash all similar dirty shirts in the same load.

Yes, there were all the lessons in how to wash what type of clothing, and yes my son doesn't want to wash his mother's/sisters' undergarments (nor do they want to wash his boxers)

I saw today that utility rates in Maryland are expected to go up this summer by about 49% (that 72% increas from last year was delayed for election reasons, but it can't be put off much longer). Especially given that, why the waste?

Sign me "clueless in Columbia"

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 4:45 PM

Personal factors affected where I applied - I was married and our son was 2 - but they did not impact which school I attended. I solicited advice from 2 or three DC law firm HR directors and any lawyers I bumped into whose career choices seemed to synch up with my goals. I followed the grant money to a school outside of DC, even though we had family in DC. I've never regretted it.

I had a guy friend who chose a school close to his girlfriend and let her choices impact his choice of where to spend his first-year summer. His career will never recover from that poor choice. She, of course, left him mid-way through second year. I'm not a big fan of letting personal factors affect your choice of the high-debt trade school education or summer jobs that are right for you.

Of my classmates, three marriages (out of about 12) and every non-married relationship but one ended over the three-year period.

American's sounding very, very good to me :>) Plus, I like the basketball coach, LOL.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 4:47 PM

My friend's husband was never available to help on snow days. No help at all, not childcare, shoveling, digging out cars, or anything.

He had the best reason I've ever heard. He was the snowplow driver. No going home early for him ;-).

Posted by: chuckle | February 16, 2007 4:49 PM

::nervous laughter::

Oh. Man. I. Am. So. Scared.

Posted by: Mona | February 16, 2007 4:49 PM

Mona, glad to give you some relief. Like lawgirl said, the first years can get competitive and there will be the temptation to study every minute - but you don't have to be a part of it if it's not your style! And definitely keep exercising.

My first year I ended making good friends with three other married women - we jokingly called ourselves the Married Ladies Study Club, and most of our study sessions were very focused around food. One time one of the very competitive types asked if he could join us, and it was really funny watching him squirm impatiently on the couch while we cut up the pineapple, dished out the salad, etc etc. He never asked to join us again. Anyway, the point is that wherever you go, you'll probably find people who have the same approach you do, whatever that may be.

And lawgirl, good luck on the bar! Make sure you take good care of yourself as the date gets closer!

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 4:50 PM

About which law school to attend -- in my experience and observation, it's a lot easier to go to school somewhat close to where you want to ultimately work and live, because that is where you will have the most networking opportunities, job opportunities, etc. A few classmates of mine who wanted to work out-of-state had trouble finding work.

Posted by: lawgirl | February 16, 2007 4:52 PM

Army Brat, I'm with you on the laundry. I don't understand the waste or the organization. Do they all have separate laundry baskets, too? Even back in the day when I had roommates we put our darks and lights together and saved quarters. More efficient. More money for happy hour.

Speaking of which . . .

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 4:55 PM

Wow...so much to consider. In my case, it'd be good to go to SCU because of the networking opportunities and prevalence of biotech companies needing patent lawyers. But I am not a fan of California; I'd really only be going there because of the BF, even though it is good for my career. I feel that DC fits my personality, but I know he'd never live here. -5F with wind chill, are you kidding me? So that explains the reluctance to commit to one school or the other. I want the relationship to work, and I want a good career....I just hope it's possible...I'll keep anyone interested updated. And thanks SO MUCH to you all for the advice! I am definitely taking it all into consideration.

Posted by: Mona | February 16, 2007 5:00 PM

Oh, I definitely also second lawgirls comments about where to go. That is a piece of advice I ignored and I know it would have made a difference. We had good reasons for staying where we were while I went to law school, but I think my career options would definitely have been different had we moved to CO for law school. I've ended up in a great position and am still happy with what we did, but I can definitely see how being here would have allowed for a different track.

I'm a little more on the fence about personal choices affecting career than NC Lawyer - I gave up some opportunities that people say you should never say no to because it didn't feel right for my family. I know I would have benefited from doing it, but I also have different career goals than most and so I don't feel like it's a death knell to my career. BUT, I think she's right to caution about choosing your school based on your BF's location. Given what you've said so far (and I know I don't know you at all and have no real basis for giving such specific advice :) ) I would recommend choosing based on what school you think is right for you, not based on your BF. Look at where the alumni work, what kind of connections you will get, where people are summering, and see how it lines up with where you want to be when you graduate. In the end I think you can make your way no matter where you go, but you might as well choose the school that will make it easier, you know what I mean?

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2007 5:02 PM

WorkingmomX and NClawyer:
Now I don't live in Wake, but my take on the year round is that the schools chosen for year round are where the growth is and the growth is on the outskirts. The inner beltline schools are not experiencing growth and are very very old. They need expensive repair just to stay open. I don't believe it has anything to do with where $ is. For example, Wake Forest and Brier Creek are year round and you tell me they aren't $$.

There are some dandy ideas here. The key to avoid multiple post is to never never never hit submit twice.

Posted by: dotted | February 16, 2007 5:02 PM

Off-topic Rant:

dotted,

yeah, well, the Wake County campaign can most succinctly be characterize as, "how many ways can we screw the Yankees so they'll stop coming". Ha! I'm actually not opposed to year-round in concept, but the selection process makes me smile. I'd not characterize Cary as the "outskirts", but what do I know. Of course, no one I work with has to bother their heads about it, because they don't live in impacted neighborhoods. (For those outside the area, think of inside the beltline as Chevy Chase.)

off to pick up the soccer champion - have a wonderful weekend!

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 16, 2007 5:14 PM

NC and Army Brat - The whole laundry question hinges on the definition of laundry. Is he washing, drying, folding only his own, or is Leslie washing and drying and he is reposibile for just getting it into the communal basket and back into his drawers and closet? This is where we started with our kids but earlier then 10. They picked up and put away and we refer to it as "do your laundry."

Who knew laundry could be parsed in so many ways?

Posted by: cmac | February 16, 2007 5:16 PM

how is it more wasteful for my husband and I to each run full loads of our own laundry than for us to run full loads of our mixed laundry? Are you saying that your kids would each wash their two pairs of jeans alone, without other clothes? Why can't they wash their own jeans with the rest of their own clothes? So long as it's a full load, it's fine.

My hubby and I do ours separately because I know on sight what needs to be line dried instead of put in the dryer, and he would never remember and would have to check the tags. We've talked about me putting the clothes that go on a regular cycle in with his stuff, but why bother.

Posted by: to Army Brat | February 16, 2007 5:22 PM

"The real question is who was the bigger A--hole, Cobb or Rose?"

Cobb. Not even a question. Quite likely the biggest A-hole to ever play the game.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 16, 2007 5:35 PM

Here's my advice to other dual-working (full-time) parents based on my experience, what's worked, what hasn't, what I would have done differently (and still trying to figure out). I have no family in the area (the living grandmothers are fairly old anyway and neither retired early) and have relied on friends only very occasionally (occasional early dismissals or no school days) (For the record: I have one kid in primary school and one in middle school.):
1) Don't underestimate the value of having family (grandparents, siblings) nearby. We don't and we see the huge difference it makes for our friends who do. Especially those who are fortunate enough to have youngish parents that are either retired or work part-time and can help out. if you are not from here, you may want to reconsider the Washington DC area if you can pursue your career elsewhere closer to family. (We really can't -- our jobs are closely connected to policy work.)
2) Make sure your child's school has a quality afterschool program. Find out what they do, staff ratio, accountability, etc. If it is not, work to make it better or find a good outside vendor to run it (e.g. Wonders Childcare (used to be All Saints All Day) is one such vendor at several area public and private schools). Afterschool programs are great if your child is sociable, a self-starter with homework and needs minimal homework assistance (ie. no special learning issues or ADHD).
3) Downside of the afterschool programs. Kids cannot stay past 6 pm usually (sometimes 6:30pm). Even so, this can be pretty late to have dinner etc. Not all kids have the stamina for it every day and some kids need more one-on-one for homework. Some kids have interests in taking music lessons or dance or sports that are in other locations. They may have regular orthodontist appointments or other check ups. They need to be taken there. (Upshot for me, it worked great for one kid for most of primary school; not for the other one -- so when the younger one was in second grade I began to hire a college student to pick both kids up afterschool, help her with homework, start dinner and take her to music lessons or appointments) (see next #)
4) College and grad students can be great part-time sitters. Grad students (though less available) are usually better because they are more likely to have cars, fewer classes and more predictable schedules. Downside is turnover. It is worth living close to a college campus for this (because students who don't have a car can easily get to your home and drive your car). I wish I had known that before I bought a home. This is more expensive than the after-school but maybe not if you have multiple kids. Most want $13-15 per hour plus gas (or use your car).
5) Older siblings are good for a gap in the afternoon but they can't drive until they are 17. They may and should have activities afterschool - sports, arts, music and other interests. Do they have to give up all those things just because they were born first? I don't think that's right. The younger child(ren) will have that opportunity when s/he's older; why should the older kids give up on their interests? Also, the end of their school day may not correspond well with the younger children's. (My older child's regular school day is longer than my younger child's)
6) A lot of the nannies that people hire to care for their babies and toddlers won't work as well for afterschool because of cost, inability to drive (some) and inability to help with homework. Some of my friends who have loving long-term nannies that drive but have limited English abilities will hire a student to help with homework. It's an additional expense.
7) If you haven't purchased a home yet, consider if at all possible (we really didn't -- to our regret) whether your home could accommodate a live-in nanny or foreign au pair. Some of my friends have used foreign au pairs and they can offer great flexibility and are less expensive than most regular live out nannies. For couples whose work involves travel it's a godsend. Also, the au pair commits for at least one year (nannies and students can just quit), and sometimes can extend for an additional 6-12 months.
8) For summers, same as above. The problem is most people I know including me don't get 6-8 weeks vacation. I still find it strange that most summer camps here don't go into August, as if everyone just leaves town for 3-4 weeks. (It's an annually struggle/nightmare as the most I can ever pull off is one week vacation leaving us to figure out the other 2-3 weeks)
9) A strategy when kids are sick or snow days. Both parents split the work day. One goes in very early and the other works very late. (But not an option for shift workers or single parents)
10) Teach kids (and their daycare and schools) to always wash hands after using the toilet and before eating and to sneeze into a tissue or the crook of their elbow (not hands). Their school now has alcohol foam dispensers in the classroom too. Cuts down on spreading colds. My kids have fewer than a lot of others I know.
That's my (long-winded) contribution. As you can see it's really imperfect and it is a huge challenge. (I miss the golden days of a good quality, year-round daycare/pre-school.) I think this is the first topic on this blog in a really long time that truly tries to address a pressing balance issue, and I really welcome the constructive ideas and suggestions of other contributors.

Posted by: SuziQ | February 16, 2007 5:42 PM

HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SuziQ's post was great, but why has it been posted 8 times, incl just now? Can't someone at WaPo PLEASE check the computer there? Other msgs have also had multiple posts here too.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 5:50 PM

Guys, he is 10. My guess is he is running full loads of any number of colors all mixed together. If your lucky, he does not throw in a red sweatshirt in with his whites. At best 10 year olds, probably sort between lights and darks. If he does his laundry once a week, he probably has enough of both to warrant two full or semi full loads. More likely, he stuffs every thing into one load so clothes come out smelling decent but not exactly clean. I don't know but I did all my own laundry by around 8. I think my mother was one of the laziest mothers on the planet when it came to housekeeping. She was on the other hand a wonderful artist, very enthuisastic about decorating, and was really a wonderful person to talk to. I always said, Mom has lots of talents. Housekeeping isn't one of them." BTW, she would agree. It did make me out to be a decent housekeeper and cook at a fairly young age. I wasn't planning to make DD do her own laundry till around late elementary school. I thought I would start off small. Like wash your own sheets and towels each week. Fold them and put sheets back on bed. Move up to clothes in middle school. By HS, they better do their own ironing, clothes, sheets, towels and laundry planning. At least that is the plan. Ask me how it is going in another 10 years. Maybe by then they will invent clothes that wash themselves.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 16, 2007 7:15 PM

to Mona: On the off chance you are still checking this out re: lawschool, here are my 2 cents as a former member of the recruiting committee of a large top-ranked law firm.

1) DON'T (I repeat - DO NOT) make a decision as important as where to go to law school based on your boyfried. Especially if it means going to a school that is much lower ranked (which SCU is) and in a state where you don't necessarily want to live.

2) Though patent law is slightly different, this whole notion of going to law school in a place where there are good "networking" opportunities is misguided. Networking will be important later on in your legal career, but not in the beginning. In the beginning, law firms are looking for top candidates (i.e., 10-33%) at top schools. If you aren't at a top school, then go to a school where you want to work. ALL the big law firms in DC recruit at American. It is a great regional school. You will NOT be able to get a good job outside of Santa Clara if you go to SCU even with a background in science. I wish it weren't so cut and dry, but it is...trust me. U

3) Going to SCU over American is not necessarily good for your career. You really are better off going to American. All because there are some biotech companies in the Santa Clara region does not mean that is where those jobs are located. The PTO is located in VIRGINIA! Clients often like their patent attorneys in DC, close to the government. You know you like DC, so really - go to American.

Sorry this all sounds so cynical, but it is the honest truth.

Posted by: londonmom | February 19, 2007 9:10 AM

Also to Mona, I wanted to add my own gloss on to what londonmom said. In my own experience, there is definitely a fair bit of regionalism at play -- even here in DC. I went to University of Texas, which (at the time, at least), was ranked I think no. 11 (we all got a kick out of going to a "top 11 law school"). And when I decided to come back east, I had a huge hill to climb -- everyone I interviewed with just assumed that everyone with brains went to Georgetown (which was actually ranked lower at the time), or perhaps Harvard. You'd have thought I had gone to Podunk State U. Almost every single interview I was asked why I didn't go to Georgetown -- as far as I know, it didn't keep me from getting a job, but it might have kept me from getting my foot in the door at some places. I really was surprised, in a city as cosmopolitan as DC appears to be, to see such provincialism come into play. But of course in Texas, UT is the be-all and end-all (with, again, perhaps an exception for Harvard).

Overall, I would encourage you to go to the best school you can get into (I trust londonmom's assessment of your two choices is accurate there). Here, for ex., we basically look for people from the top 25 law schools -- you can get in the door if you've gone to a lower-ranked school, but you need to be really, really high in your class. But I would definitely also take the regionalism into account. American will likely give you better entry into the job market anywhere outside of California. But I also suspect that within California, they might elevate the prominence of their own local school -- just like we tend to interview more Maryland grads than comparable schools on the west coast. I suspect the scale still tips to American (and I second the earlier comments re: deciding to go based on what is best for your future), but if you are 100% sure you want to work in California, SCU is probably a reasonable option, too.

And the good news is, once you've been practicing 5-10 years, the prestige factor of your law school is mostly irrelevant. Then it's the prestige of your current employer. :-)

Posted by: Laura | February 19, 2007 10:14 AM

Laura and londonmom,
Now I'm not a lawyer, but you've brought up a question in my mind. Laura brought up the prestige of your current employer. Now that may be tongue in cheek, but seriously, what happens to those who take time off (say 2-3 years) for any reason (e.g., to have kids, take care of parents, golden handshake when company is acquired...) in the patent law business? I know people using all of the mentioned reasons for taking time off and they're patent lawyers. What is your take on their chances of returning to the business? Be blunt. I'm trying to understand and I'm an engineer. I like blunt talk.

Posted by: dotted | February 19, 2007 10:56 AM

dotted, did your friends work for a while before taking time off? I don't have nearly the experience that Laura and Londonmom do, but from what I've heard from others if you've done good work at a good firm and established yourself a bit, it's possible to return to that firm or another one, although I think you'll still experience some setbacks, you won't necessarily come back to the same rung you were on when you left.

Posted by: Megan | February 19, 2007 11:03 AM

They all worked for 10-20 years before taking off. Megan, you bring up a side point, which may turn out to be the real point...ha ha...How much difference does it make if you didn't work for a law firm but rather as a lawyer for a tech company?

This has some parallels to other businesses (e.g., working as a tech for a non-tech company then taking off vs. working for a tech company). I guess the question may be: if you know you need to take off at some time, should you position yourself with a company in the field (within a law firm or within a tech company)? Or does it matter?

For tech, it is better to be within a tech company. imho.

Posted by: dotted | February 19, 2007 11:16 AM

Dotted, I agree with Megan that a lot of it depends on your work history -- if you have worked a number of years and made yourself very valuable to your employer, they will likely want you back, whereas if you've just been there a year or two, it's not likely you will have had a chance to make a great impression. But if you leave it too late, that also hurts your chances -- if you work 6-7 years first, you're likely not to get back in on a partnership track, if at all (personal experience: I moved cross-country as a 7th yr associate, and NO ONE wanted to even talk to me, because they assumed (a) that I had been denied partnership, or (b) would want to be a partner within a year or two).

One other big factor is your employer -- if you go to work for a firm that hires 100 new associates every fall, with the expectation that maybe one or two will make partner after 10 years, then it probably doesn't matter how good you are. Some firms operate more "traditionally," where "we just don't do that" seems to control; others are more flexible, and will look beyond the traditional "up or out" partnership track.

I suspect that patent lawyers would likely be a good field to be in for leaving and coming back. I am also a regulatory geek, working with a firm of co-geeks, and our clients tend to want me to answer their questions in 30 minutes, rather than having a first-year spend 4 hrs researching. So our practice demands senior lawyers with experience, instead of just a lot of warm bodies to throw on an 8,000,000-page document production -- which also makes us more creative in finding and keeping good, experienced people. I know they've been hugely flexible with me -- I left for 3 yrs when we lived out west, then they took me back telecommuting from 1600 miles away on an hourly basis for 3 more years, then made room for me in an office here and put me back on partnership track when we finally managed to move back east.

Posted by: Laura | February 19, 2007 11:30 AM

Dotted, just got your update. I suspect corporate or government life is likely the best option. In those jobs, significant experience is seen as a major plus (instead of as a reason to increase a salary demand!) -- I know a number of corportations who won't even interview people with less than 5 yrs experience.

Law firms might be an option, too, if you're happy with a non-partnership-track position. I bet there are likely a number of firms who would love to have a real subject-matter expert they can call on. But finding those jobs is likely going to be a matter of networking -- both to find companies/firms looking for that kind of expertise, and to find places whose culture allows for reasonable billable hour requirements and flexibility.

Posted by: Laura | February 19, 2007 11:44 AM

You really know your stuff. I'm wondering whether this is a good topic in a general way: how to structure work to best facilitate life decisions later on. Different fields appear to operate differently and, even within fields, there are differences (Laura's corporate/goverment vs. firm...at least that is how I read it). These differences may be exacebated by particular people/traditions. There are people still stuck in the 60s. But I'm thinking generalities, not specifics, here.

It is a slow day and beyond my friend's experiences, I wonder what each of us could have done to best prepare for our decisions. Laura, I have to think you did well in your preparations!

Posted by: dotted | February 19, 2007 12:07 PM

A few random thoughts:

Mona, londonmom's post was spot-on.

Laura, I'll cynically disagree that once you've been out 5 - 7 years, your school doesn't matter. From what I've seen, lawyers care about your alma mater FOREVER. When you send in a resume, many hiring partners consider the rank of your law school alma mater to be a marker for your intelligence, and the geographical location of your alma mater is a marker for your probably personal style, e.g., whether you will "fit".

I'm having trouble with the term "patent law business". There's a noticeable difference between how fast your knowledge becomes obsolete depending upon whether you handle patent prosecution, patent licensing, or patent litigation. The answers to various questions that have been kicked around change depending on the nature of one's patent-related practice. In my experience, the prestige of your current employer, or your last employer, is going to impact how much your next employer thinks you lost a step. If you worked for a respected IP practice of a national firm for 7 - 10 years before you took time off, and if you took less than 4 years off, your skills at drafting patent applications are probably still 98%. Same background, but your practice focuses on patent licensing, you've lost a step or two, but could get up to speed in the first 6 months of you worked full-time. Same background, but your practice is in patent litigation, it all depends on the precise nature and sophistication of your prior work, e.g., were you first chair in one or more patent infringement lawsuits, or were you head of the document production team.

dotted, I can only speak for our hiring in terms of which choice might best position you to have the most attractive options to take off and re-enter later. If you go in-house straight out of law school and if you've never worked at a large firm in a sophisticated practice, you will only know the approach and values of the company for whom you've worked. If you only work for a large firm, you'll be exposed to a variety of client approaches, values and priorities and may be more flexible in the solutions you can offer, but you may be insensitive to client budget and practical concerns. The ideal applicant, for our transactional practice, has spent at least 3 years at a large firm, and at least 1 year in-house, at some point during her career.

IMHO, the IP-focused attorney who seeks to take time off in connection with family has the most options if she: starts out at a large firm, then goes in-house, and takes less than 5 years off.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 19, 2007 12:16 PM

Dotted, lol at your reference to my "preparations." My goal in life was to be happy; my goal at a job was not to be bored and to be able to pay the bills. Beyond that, I didn't have a clue! I went to a small liberal arts college and majored in English, because I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Senior year, I realized that with my degree, I could either teach or flip burgers, didn't particularly want to do either, so went to law school because it sounded interesting, and I figured it couldn't hurt. Turns out, I got lucky and loved it. Started out at a big firm -- didn't really know what I wanted to do, so thought a big firm would let me try different things. Plus, as NC Lawyer said, I knew I could go from there to anywhere else, but not the reverse. Found a specialty I loved by sheer dumb luck. So my life has been a long history of really not having much of a clue and getting damn lucky. :-)

The only advice I can give in terms of "preparing" for the future you want is just not to settle for anything less than what matters to you -- and don't set up a lifestyle that requires you to earn the big bucks, no matter the cost. Especially if you're like me and really don't have a good sense of what you want to do, the best thing you can do is save money and avoid debt so you can afford to take a chance on any option that looks interesting.

Personally, I always wanted a life, even before I was married and had kids, so the prestige and $$ of a big firm just wasn't that important. Unfortunately, I also have an extremely low boredom threshold, so I also had to look beyond the typical government and in-house jobs, which I found hugely dull (not to mention abusive boss at one -- ish). But since I have always been cheap, and hadn't tied myself to huge student loans (who knew the Sunday 7AM housekeeping shift would ultimately pay off?), I was able to take a chance on different things until I found a good fit.

Posted by: Laura | February 19, 2007 12:56 PM

re: the autism topic. following is a link to a quick, useful article from USAToday this a.m.


http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-02-18-autism-roots_x.htm

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2007 1:44 PM

Dotted, I think that's a great question for the day. And Laura, I love this: "My goal in life was to be happy; my goal at a job was not to be bored and to be able to pay the bills. Beyond that, I didn't have a clue!" I still feel like that (particularly the not having a clue bit).

I also think that limiting your lifestyle early on is key if you want to have balance later - my husband and I talked a lot about making sure we didn't fall into the trap of buying a house and other things we could only afford if we were both working full time at a demanding job; I've known too many couples (esp. lawyers) who get into that.

In terms of legal work, I think that NC Lawyer makes a good point about starting at a firm - although doing litigation has never been a goal of mine, I'm working for a firm (albeit a small one) and getting that experience now because I felt like if I started with any other type of work straight out of school, I wouldn't be able to move to a firm; whereas I feel like I should be able to find a way to move from this position to doing something different, whether it's policy or advocacy or something totally unrelated. We'll see...

I also think that you can often demand more options if you have a specialized skill that someone is looking for, like what Laura described in her first post. I don't think it has to be a practice area necessarily, although that seems to be true. But it can be something smaller - for example, my boss was really looking for someone who would primarily write, and the fact that he really liked my writing enabled me to work out a very good deal for myself. Finding those opportunities does seem to require great networking or a dose of really good luck - which is what I had - but is probably something you could also lay the groundwork for if you are thinking about it.

Posted by: Megan | February 19, 2007 2:10 PM

Not being a lawyer, I am having a huge chuckle at having to parse and understand some of all the lawyer domain-specific speak...nc lawyer, you are one awesome chick!

Laura, I never really prepared either. I just got lucky in many ways. At a big tech firm, a new program began where they would pay full salary to send you to get your MS. I applied and somehow I was accepted. Next thing I knew the university was saying, stay and we'll pay you to get your PhD. Lo and behold a job opened up in my field right where I wanted to be. Serendipity was my first, middle and last name for a few years. However, as I approach that big 5-0, I see my friends not necessarily being so lucky and being caught in a bind.

One friend worked as a patent lawyer for a now bought-out IT firm. My completely uneducated guess is she worked on filing patent claims and maybe checking on competing patent claims? The IT firm was/is located in silicon valley, but she was always located on the east coast. No surprise, but here came that golden handshake. Her golden handshake was magnificent. She took advantage of the golden handshake to have and stay home for her child. Well, it has now been 3 years and now, she is looking to get back, but she can't get any notice here on the east coast. Her law degree is Santa Barbara (at least 15 years ago), I think. So, this talk of law school location, preparation for life, and experience just rang a few bells.

Posted by: dotted | February 19, 2007 2:24 PM

Wow, it's SO reassuring to hear from other people who didn't have major life plans! My mom is an uber-A, who always has everything planned and controlled down to the last detail (you can imagine how well my life goal of "I just want to be happy" went over with her!). Then I married an engineer, who basically was destined for a Ph.D from the time he first memorized pi (at, like, 4). And of course, being a lawyer, I'm pretty much surrounded by people who have known since they were 8 that they wanted to be a lawyer just like dad and who had their specific colleges and law schools selected by the age of 12. So I spend most of my time feeling like an odd duck. :-)

Posted by: Laura | February 19, 2007 3:07 PM

Laura,
Engineers know pi.

Seriously, my dad taught my binary representation math before I learned decimal representation math. And this was in 1964.

Posted by: dotted | February 19, 2007 3:12 PM

Dotted --

Yeah, I've figured that out -- he can recite to something like 17 digits (pitiful, I know -- he's been slacking off since grad school). He taught our daughter by the age of 3. Now we're working on Avogadro's number (tho as a one-time wannabe chemist, even I actually know that one!).

Posted by: Laura | February 19, 2007 3:33 PM

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